THURSDAY March 31, 2022
By Patty Magubira
The Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania
The 4thEast African Legislative Assembly (EALA) will next month wind up its five-year tenure by debating and approving fundamental laws to the integration agenda.
Before the community attains the Monetary Union, it has to put in place legally created institutions that will integrate financial interactions, integration, monitoring and statistics.
“I am happy we’re going to end our tenure with a very good note, the legislations will take us a step towards Monitory Union, the third pillar of the integration,” Mr Martin Ngoga, the EALA Speaker, told a high-level delegation from the Burundi government recently.
The 4th assembly was inaugurated on December 19, 2017, in Arusha, Tanzania, instead of June 5, 2017, following belated election of its members by national assemblies of Kenya and South Sudan.
MORE INFORMATION: Burundi Delegation
Ms Domine Banyankimbona, the Justice Minister and Attorney General, led the Burundi Delegation to the headquarters to acquaint itself with activities of the organs of the bloc, namely the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat and the EALA. Among other Burundi government officials, the minister was flanked by the President of the Supreme Court, Mr Emmanuel Gatereste, and the Prosecutor General, Mr Sylvestre Nyandwi. Justice Nestor Kayobera, the President of the EACJ, hosted the delegation in Arusha. “I had wanted to conduct this plenary in Burundi, unfortunately the Speaker told me that the plan has clashed with the National Assembly calendar,” the EALA Speaker regretted. Burundi being the next Chair of the community after Kenya, the visit of the delegation apparently prepares the EAC partner state for the role ahead.
Ms Rebecca Kadaga, the Uganda First Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for EAC Affairs, tabled Bills for consideration and enactment of the key laws before the regional House between late in February and early in March 2022.
The Bills she tabled on behalf of the Chairperson of the East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers and Kenya’s Industrialisation and Trade Cabinet Secretary, Ms Betty Maina, are critical for smooth functioning of the Customs Union and for fast-tracking the process of establishing the Monetary Union.
The EAC Customs Management (Amendment) Bill, 2022; the East African Financial Services Commission Bill, 2022; and the EAC Surveillance Compliance and Enforcement Commission Bill, 2022, were all tabled in late February and early March 2022, for the first reading.
The Bills have been referred to committees on Communication, Trade and Investment; General Purpose; and Legal, Rules and Privileges, respectively, for scrutiny and public hearing.
Several amendments have been made to the Customs Management Act since, but this year’s amendment seeks to streamline and rationalise customs administration, operations and procedures in line with the improved customs operational procedures recently adopted by the community.
The Bill provides some of the measures that the EAC Council of Ministers may approve to remedy adverse effects on a partner state, including waiving duty on specific goods where there is a shortfall in the production of the goods in the community as allowed by Article 12(3) of the Customs Union Protocol.
The Article says the EAC Council of Ministers may review the common external tariff structure and approve measures designed to remedy any adverse effects which any of the partner states may experience by reason of the implementation of part of the protocol or, in exceptional circumstances, to safeguard interests of the community.
The objective of the East African Financial Services Commission Bill, 2022, in turn, is to establish a commission as an institution of the community to provide for functions, governance, funding and headquarters as stipulated in Article 21(a) of the Monetary Union Protocol.
The objective of the commission is to promote the integration of financial systems; harmonise supervisory and regulatory practices for the non-bank financial sector; promote confidence and protection of consumers, investors and other users; coordinate functioning of non-bank financial services; and to promote the stability of the financial system.
The objective of the EAC Surveillance Compliance and Enforcement Commission Bill, 2022, is to provide for functions, powers and governance structure of the commission.
The main role of the commission is to promote the attainment of the macroeconomic convergence criteria for all partners states during the transition to the Monetary Union and to monitor the maintenance and adherence of the criteria by the states once a single currency is established.
Also tabled before the House during the period is the Standardisation, Accreditation and Conformity Assessment Bill, 2022, which was also referred to the Committee on Communication, Trade and Investment for scrutiny and public hearing.
The Bill seeks to separate matters relating to standardisation, accreditation and conformity assessment from those relating to metrology which were mixed in the previous Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Metrology and Testing Act the community enacted in 2006.
The objective of the Bill is to provide for standardisation, accreditation and conformity of products produced or traded in the bloc in a bid to facilitate industrial development and trade and to provide for protection of the health and safety of the society and the environment.
The Bill also aims at streamlining and rationalising standards and the community’s conformity assessment principles with the international best practices defined in the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade AgreementΩ