EAC chief meets business leaders
EAC Secretary General. Richard Sezibera, yesterday at a Breakfast meeting, assured CEOs that efforts are being done to address current challenges to attain fully fledged integration, involving the private sector.
“One of our priorities is to involve the private sector and the civil society and other interests groups in the integration process by providing a platform like this one,” he said
He further noted that infrastructure programmes such as energy, road and rail transport have been receiving much attention.
“You members of the private sector contribute 80 per cent to the regional economy in terms of job creation, poverty reduction and service provision”.
Faustin Mbundu, Chairman of the Private Sector Federation, said the country was moving ahead of its peers in implementing the protocols of the integration as agreed at regional level.
“There is a feeling that Rwanda is fast in implementing what is agreed on the east African level, for us it is in our interests to lead the way in implementing the east African community protocols,” he said .
Mbundu added that Rwanda has made strides in opening the market for the region and removing barriers to trade that are hampering the implementation of both the Customs Union and Common Market Protocol.
“I think we are in position to lead the way following the principle of enlightening some selfish interests that are more modern; but we can pull other people along the way,” he added
The Secretary General CEOs breakfast meeting organised by Private Sector Federation of Rwanda in conjunction with East African Business Council, provided a forum for Sezibera and CEOs to discuss key challenges facing the private sector in the EA integration.
The meeting discussed issues challenging the implementation of a fully fledged Customs Union and the Common Market, such as lack of harmonised domestic tax regimes and lowering the cost of doing business through improved infrastructure.
Moreover, this has been witnessed in World Bank’s Doing Business report this year where the country was ranked highest-economy for doing business in the EAC and is the world’s 2nd most improved economy for doing business from 2005 to 2011.
“If we do things the Rwandan way, I am sure we can ignore the story of complaining and whatever we achieve we can develop on it to move to the next level,” Mbundu he told said
Nevertheless, the CEOs highlighted key challenges that are hampering business in the region which included barriers and restrictions on the movement, sale, investment and transfer of capital.
They further highlighted the issue of discrimination based on the nationality, the place of residence and where capital is invested.
Sezibera said there has been success such as macro economic convergence, harmonisation of fees, academic and professional qualification and free movement of capital, among others, and adoption of travel documents.
“There are issues we must deal with of partner states instituting checks, road blocks which might make sense for the bureaucracies but do not make sense in terms of doing business,” the Secretary General said.
Sezibera added that the Secretariat has signed a four-year corporation program with the World Bank aimed at improving investment climate and the public private partnership framework which is looked at addressing the business community’s concerns.
Contact email: dias.nyesiga[at]newtimes.co.rw