Uganda has officially taken over from the United Republic of Tanzania as the new Chairperson of East African Community.
Rwanda became the new rapporteur during the 35th Meeting of EAC Council of Ministers which concluded yesterday at the EAC headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
The tenure of office of the Chairperson of the EAC is one year and it is held on rotational basis among the Partner States as per Article 12 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.
Speaking after taking over, the new Chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers, Hon. Dr Ali Kirunda Kivenjija, Uganda’s Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Affairs, said that the Council of Ministers meeting came at a time when there was growing demand by the East African citizens to see, touch and feel the tangible benefits of the regional integration especially following the launch of the Customs Union in 2005, the Common Market in 2010, and the Monetary Union in 2013.
“At this critical period, the Council’s contribution towards the regional integration process therefore cannot be overemphasized,” Kivenjija. He urged EAC Partner States to enhance the visibility of the tangible benefits of the integration by implementing fully the Customs Union and Common Market protocols.
Kivejinja said that since the operationalization of the Customs Union and Common Market protocols, Partner States have not fully allowed the citizens to enjoy the anticipated benefits.
“Our people are still experiencing non-tariff barriers, harmonization of national laws to conform to the Protocols are still far, and popular participation in the integration process is still generally low in all the Partner States,” said the Minister.
The new Chair of the Council also reminded members of the Council on the Summit directive to the Council to present a report on Alternative Financing Mechanism including the option of 1 percent of Imports from outside the Community in line with the Principle of Financial Solidarity and Equity. He urged the Ministers of Finance to finalize the proposal as soon as possible so that the Summit can be guided to this outstanding matter.
On his part, the outgoing Chair, Amb. Augustine Mahiga Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, East Africa, Regional and International Cooperation, called upon the Organs and Institutions of the Community to refocus and re-engineer how to move forward the integration agenda.
“I urge them to refrain themselves from unnecessary expenditures which amount equally to wastage of tax payers money,” said Amb Mahiga. Amb. Mahiga disclosed that there are inbuilt challenges in any regional integration schemes which need to be addressed as long as they are known.
“Generally what I can say during our tenure we came across plains, hills and valleys but all is well.”
EAC Secretary General, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, congratulate the new Chair on his appointment and expressed confidence that the Republic of Uganda would steer the Council and the Community to greater heights during her tenure as Chair. “I pledge my total commitment and support to you.”