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EAC: PLENARY COMMENCES IN ARUSHA ..House passes Report on Single Customs Territory and another on Climate Change

kiziga61East African Legislative Assembly, Arusha, May 27, 2014:

EALA commenced its 6th Sitting of the 2nd Session in Arusha this afternoon, debating and adopting two key reports.
The Report of the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources on the 2nd Parliamentarians Workshop on Climate Change and the Report of the Committee on Communication, Trade and Investments on the Single Customs Territory (SCT) sailed through the House.
The Report on On-Spot assessment of the EAC Single Customs Territory (SCT) presented to EALA by Hon Angela Kizigha cites the need for capacity building and sensitisation programs as a pre-requisite to its successful operationalization.
It further urges the Assembly to keep track of the progress of the SCT and to liaise closely with stakeholders to determine the legal instruments necessary for its effective operationalization.
The Report of the on-spot assessment which took place in Mombasa in February 2014 is upbeat that the customs initiative needs to be strengthened and monitored to achieve the desired results.
Under the SCT arrangement, the EAC Partner States shall adopt a destination model of clearance of imports whereby the assessment and collection of tax revenues on such consignments will be done at the first point of entry.
This allows for free circulation of goods within the single EAC market, with variations to accommodate exports from one Partner State to another. In that regard, Customs administrations in destination Partner States retain control over the assessment of taxes.
The SCT anticipates the crystallization of the gains of regional integration characterized by minimal internal border controls and more efficient institutional mechanisms for clearing goods out of Customs control.
A number of benefits are envisaged under the SCT including reduced costs of doing business by elimination of the duplication of processes, control of administrative costs and the enhanced capacity of the private and public sector agencies.   One territory shall also spur the realisation of the economies of scale, according to the report.  
The pillars of the Single Customs Territory include the circulation of goods classified as imports into the EAC, intra-EAC transfer of goods as well as the exports of goods from the Partner States to outside of the EAC.
During the on-spot assessment, the Committee visited the One-Stop border Post in Mombasa where government agencies are housed including those of the Uganda Revenue Authority and Rwanda Revenue Authority. According to the report, the Manifest Management System (MMS) is in place and it facilitates the process of the scanning and cargo clearing in the SCT.
At debate time, the report received overwhelming support on the floor of the House.  Hon ShyRose Bhanji urged the region to exploit the ever-increasing trade opportunities. Hon Dan Kidega remarked that Dar es Salaam was another strategic port for consideration and that the Committee should visit the port to acquaint themselves with its operations. Hon Maryam Ussi noted that it was important for citizens of Zanzibar to also benefit from trade. 
The Secretary General, Amb Dr. Richard Sezibera remarked that the piloting of the SCT on both the northern and central corridor was on track. 
“Two products – that is wheat grain and fuel are currently been piloted under the SCT arrangement in Republics of Burundi and Rwanda.  The pilot project is expected to end with the full roll out”, the Secretary General said, adding that, the costs of doing business had been tremendously reduced. 
The Secretary General informed the House that the issue of work permits to facilitate operations of the SCT was under consideration at the forthcoming Council of Ministers’ meeting.   
Amb Dr. Sezibera noted that electronic cargo systems around the region were at various stages of implementation.   “The United Republic of Tanzania is currently ahead while Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya are working on the same,” the EAC boss added.
The Deputy Minister of EAC in the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Abdalla Saadala noted that despite the geo-political turbulences and challenges, the Summit of Heads of State and the other stakeholders at remained on course with regards to realising integration.  He noted that Tanzania was keen to reduce and significantly so, the number of weighbridges and roadblocks with the entry of the SCT. 
Addressing the House on behalf of the Chair of Council of Ministers, Hon Phyllis Kandie, the Minister for EAC, Uganda, Hon Shem Bageine termed the report elaborate and urged legislators to sensitize stakeholders on the importance of the Single Customs Territory.
He remarked that the successful realisation of the SCT would be determined to a large extent by the full implementation of the Common Market Protocol.Others who supported the motion were Hon Dora Byamukama and Hon Nancy Abisai.
On its part, the Report on Climate Change reiterates the need to have the Council of Ministers to introduce a regional Climate Bill to give legal effect to the climate change policy.
The Bill is expected to enable the Community to establish a regional institutional structure to oversee climate change initiatives, operationalize the EAC Climate Change Fund and to establish an EAC carbon credit exchange mechanism.
The Report presented to the House by the Chair of the ATNR Committee, Hon Isabelle Ndahayo also wants the region to take collaboration a notch higher through partnerships.
In the regard, the legislators are urging the Secretariat to work closely with the African Green Fund and the regional Clean Development Management (CDM) collaboration centre hosted by the East African Development Bank to strengthen monitoring and reporting of projects.
The report is as a result of the 2nd Parliamentarians workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya, in December 2013 that was attended by senior EAC officials, climate change experts, EALA Members and representatives from the EAC Partner States National Parliaments.
The Nairobi workshop deliberated on the existing climate change legal and institutional frameworks in the EAC Partner State and reviewed the climate change financing options for the region. Another objective was to understudy the best practices in climate change adaptation and mitigation projects in the energy sector with a focus on the Olkaria Geothermal Power Project.
In addition, it appraised the implementation status of the EALA Climate Change Report and Resolution.
The effects of climate change particularly climatic disasters of floods and droughts have serious and significant impacts on communities, ecosystems and economies with negative impact on sustainable development in developing countries. It is indicated that Least Developed Countries are most vulnerable to climate change.
The Report was supported by Hon Christophe Bazivamo noted that the negative impact of climate change was a reality.  “Recent floods in Bujumbura and Dar and the drought been observed in parts of Kenya and Uganda show the population is at risk and we must put in place reforestation programs and other mitigation strategies, the legislator said.
Hon Leonce Ndarubagiye called for urgent for interventions to address environmental hazards including pollution, deforestation and called for home-grown solutions. 
The Minister for EAC Affairs, Uganda, Hon Shem Bageine, Hon Dr. Odette Nyiramilimo, the Counsel to the Community, Hon Wilbert Kaahwa and Hon Mumbi Ngaru also supported the Motion.



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