The Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Dr Richard Sezibera, on Thursday paid a working visit to Roofings Group Uganda at its 2nd plant located in Namanve, Uganda’s upcoming Industrial Area on the outskirts of the capital, Kampala.
The Secretary General was accompanied by Hon. Dr. James Shinyabulo Mutende, Uganda’s Minister of State for Industry; Mr. Dennis Karera, the Chair of the East African Business Council (EABC) and the Ag. CEO, Ms. Lilian Awinja; Mr. Hussein Omar, the EABC Uganda Chapter Chair; Dr. Samuel M. Nyantahe, Chairman of Confederation of Tanzania Industries; Amb. Jean Rigi, Burundi’s Permanent Secretary for EAC Affairs, and; Commissioner Rona Sserwada from Uganda’s Ministry of EAC Affairs.
Welcoming the Secretary General to the Plant, the Chairman and Managing Director of the Roofings Group, Mr. Sikander Lalani, said it was gratifying that Amb. Sezibera’s visit to the plant came immediately after the 1st East African Manufacturing Business Summit held from 1st to 2nd September, 2015 in the Ugandan capital.
Lalani said the deliberations at the Summit were all geared towards job creation for the youth, increasing value addition, quality assurance, enhancing tax revenues, fair trade and. most importantly, boosting the region’s economic standing in the world.
Lalani told the Secretary General of various issues that must be addressed at the regional level in order to boost the growth of the steel sector, namely: the need to increase the EAC Common External Tariff (CET) on galvanized wire to 25% in the region, and; the Re-bars to have either a fixed import tax rate based on volume at $250 EAC CET per tonne or based on value at 25% CET, whichever is higher.
The CEO also proposed removing cold rolled coils, galvanized coils and pre-painted coils removed from the duty remission schemes of Rwanda and Burundi. He also requested the region to put in place a robust quality assurance system by way of adopting regional standards in the steel sector as well as putting in place a level playing field in tax administration.
He further urged Partner States’ governments to prioritize and enhance local/regional content for infrastructural and donor funded projects as a way of promoting the Buy East African, Build East Africa campaign.
Lalani disclosed that the Group was employing people from the region without any discrimination for as long as they have the required skills and ability to deliver.
He also assured the Secretary General that the firm was keen on investing in the entire region depending on the enabling environment in terms of import duty policies, level of playing field and availability of markets.
Minister of State for Industry Dr. Mutende assured the Secretary General and investors in the region that Uganda Government was working to address all the issues impacting on her business environment including a reduction in energy costs.
EABC Chair Mr. Karera called for an urgent meeting of steel producers and stakeholders before the end of September 2015 to address the issues impacting on business in the sector in the region, adding that a regional code of conduct was being developed and will be considered for adoption at the November EAC Heads of State Summit.
In his remarks, Amb. Dr. Sezibera congratulated Mr. Lalani for the massive and quality investment in Uganda and the wider East African region, adding that some of the issues raised were already being addressed by the EAC Secretariat, the Council of Ministers and EABC.
On the issue of standards, Amb. Sezibera urged the Roofings Group to work closely with the EABC and the EAC Secretariat to sort them out.
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