The EAC Secretary General’s Forum was held today at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
Hosted by the East African Business Council (EABC) in collaboration with Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), EAC Secretariat and Trade Mark East Africa, the Forum brought together over 150 key business leaders, owners and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of private businesses in Uganda to dialogue on issues impacting doing business in Uganda and the region as a whole and strategize on the way forward.
Addressing participants, Uganda’s Minister of State for East African Community Affairs, Hon. Shem Bageine urged the business community to lay emphasis on sustainable investments for sustainable economic growth, employment creation particularly to the young generation and poverty reduction to create positive impact on the community.
Hon. Bageine urged the private sector to regularly attend and participate in the Sectoral Council meetings and those related to trade, finance, investment, industry, monetary, and other matters, “as this would help you to own and drive the EAC integration process to your benefit sustainably”. He pointed out that Partner States had put in place conducive conditions for the private sector to thrive such as the rule of law, modern infrastructure, a stable macroeconomic environment, an educated, skilled and healthy workforce, gender equality and access to financial services. He called for strengthening the teaming up of public and private sector to support the transformation of the EAC region.
Hon. Dr. Mutende, Uganda’s Minister of State for Trade and Cooperatives said in creating the enabling environment to trade, the Community was on the right direction but he called for effective implementation and enforcement of the regional laws and policies so as to make them effective and beneficial to all stakeholders and the citizens in the bloc.
Dr. Mutende said that non-tariff barriers (NTBs) resulting from poor implementation of administrative procedures and enforcement of laws had caused the business community a lot of losses that could be avoided. The Minster sighted some of the NTBs as those related to lack of coordination among institutions involved in testing goods, existence of several weighbridges, un-harmonized border management institutions’ working hours, un-harmonized road users charges, numerous charges to protect certain products particularly dairy products, and unnecessary restrictions to other companies’ bids to tender for supply of goods and services across the borders.
The Hon. Minister asserted that NTBs were greatly impacting the intra-EAC trade and “we need to rethink strategies to eliminate them”, adding that “we need to have a policy that encourages Private-Public Sector Partnership in capital investment which will lead to substantial reduction of cost of doing business in the EAC region”.
The Secretary General of the East African Community Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera informed his guests that due to the growing portfolio of the EAC projects and programmes, and also in order to diversify the EAC resource base and cut on donor dependency, there was need for the Community to tap into the potential funding from the private sector through the establishment of an EAC Private Sector Fund.
Amb. Sezibera informed Uganda’s business community that the ongoing initiative to set up a $20 Million EAC Private Sector Fund was to boost the participation of the private sector in the ongoing market integration.
“The idea behind the fund is to see how we can ensure that the private sector plays a bigger role in the integration of EAC. The fund will be used to address various challenges facing the private sector within the EAC” disclosed the EAC official. The Secretary General briefed his audience on the latest positive developments taking place in all the four pillars of the regional integration noting that the process was on track and gaining momentum each passing day.
The EABC Executive Director, Mr. Andrew Luzze highlighted the status and progress on the implementation of agreed recommendations of previous EAC SG CEO Breakfast Meetings and noted that 31 issues remained unresolved.
Source : East African Community