By Rt. Hon Daniel F. Kidega, Speaker of EALA on Monday, November 21, 2016, Kenya National Assembly
Ladies & Gentlemen of the Press,
Good Morning! I welcome you all to this press briefing and thank you for your attendance. I wish to notify you the 3rd Meeting of the 5th Session of the 3rd Assembly commences here in Nairobi from today until November 30th, 2016.
At this juncture, I salute his Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and the entire Government of the Republic of Kenya for accepting to host EALA.
I also thank our host, the Speaker of the Kenya National Assembly, Rt. Hon Justin Muturi for granting us access to the facilities here at the Kenya National Assembly.
We are holding this Session in Nairobi, in pursuit of the principle of rotation anchored on the provisions of Article 55 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community on the one side and on the need to be constantly visible by bringing the Assembly closer to the people.
Over the two-weeks, the Assembly will conduct the following notable business for consideration:
- we shall receive the Official Address by H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta at the Special Sitting on Tuesday, November 29, 2016;
- debate on the EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill, 2016
- receive and consider reports from various Committees of the Assembly including the Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution, the Committee on Accounts and the Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges. The Report of the sensitisation activities of EALA shall also be considered and debated.
- EALA will also consider several Motions and Questions brought before the House.
The EAC is at an important period in the integration dispensation. The Customs Union which is being implemented, envisages goods produced in the region enjoy zero taxes but benefit from uniform external tariffs, procedures and documentation. The Single Customs Territory regime is expected to attain progress and essentially enable the faster movement of goods.
The Port of Mombasa for example, has enhanced efficiency with the commissioning of Berth 19 over a year ago, and this has led to the improvement of the container handling facilities and the flow of transport along the Northern Corridor from the port through to the Republics of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Republic of South Sudan.
The Common Market Protocol on its part, provides for free movement of goods, services, labour, capital and the rights to establishment and settlement among others. Generally, Partner States have shown willingness to enforce the Protocol but there are still some fears and suspicions which are uncalled for. We encourage Partner States to fight the fears and suspicion in order to enable the region to attain free movement and the full operationalization of the Protocol. Partner States should complement each other and build on the existing strengths to explore bigger markets and enjoy economies of scale and production.
Under the Monetary Union, EALA shall work closely with the Council of Ministers to enact necessary legislations establishing the East African Monetary Institute, East African Financial Services Commission and the East African Surveillance, Compliance and Enforcement Commission among others.
We expect some of these key pieces of legislation to be moved within the next few months before we wind down our tenure in June 2017.We are indeed looking forward to January next year when the next Summit of EAC Heads of State will re-convene to conclude the matters around the Economic Partnership Agreements. As an Assembly, we want the EPAs matter handled with utmost care and a suitable decision best for the region arrived at.
On matters of peace and security, the EAC is yet to be fully secure with the recent political challenges realized in the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Burundi. We also appeal to the Partner States to be more vigilant to contain terrorism which is still a challenge within the bloc.
The involvement of East Africans in the process of integration is fundamental given the fact that the Treaty under Article (7) places “a people-centred process” as a key principle to integration. EALA completed a successful third phase of sensitisation early this month. We shall continue to engage with the citizens of the region and to ensure their opinions and aspirations are taken into account when enacting Legislation.
At the same time, there needs to be faster uptake of the EAC agenda in the national policy networks as well as the total elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers. We appeal to Partner States to speed up implementation of the agreed upon areas.
The central and northern corridors are key infrastructures that service the hinterland of the Partner States. We salute the Heads of State for the firm stand taken to improve the efficiency on the corridors. We are optimistic the improved infrastructure and the near completion of the Standard Gauge Railway line shall serve the region well, enhance growth and expansion of trade among the States.
A major challenge the EAC faces today is funding. The matter is so critical that the Assembly and a number of Institutions and Organs literally cancelled or reduced their activities. The remission by the Partner States up to date paints a less than positive picture. As at today, the following is the breakdown (Separate list).
In the regard, I appeal to the Partner States to make their full remittances by December as agreed by the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers also needs to speedily implement the Alternative Funding Mechanism for the EAC.
I wish to mention that immediately after Plenary, EALA will host the 10th Inter-Parliamentary Relation Seminar (or the Nanyuki series as often referred to).
The theme this year is Good Governance and Poverty Reduction in East Africa. The Nanyuki series shall be followed by the 7th Inter-Parliamentary Games in Mombasa, Kenya. Both initiatives are avenues through which EALA and the National Assemblies of the EAC Partner States interact as per the requirements of Articles 49(2) and 65 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.
I welcome the Media to fully cover the EALA Plenary sittings during the two weeks. I thank you for your kind attention.