The East African Community Monetary Institute Bill was on Thursday evening tabled before the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) which wrapped up the second week of sittings in Dodoma, Tanzania.
The long-awaited piece of legislation, MP Aden Omar Abdikadir, the Chairperson of the Committee on General Purpose reiterated the objective of establishing the East African Community Monetary Institute which will take on preparatory work for the bloc’s third pillar of integration – the Monetary Union.
If all goes according to plan, the Bill is one of those key legislative tools setting the stage for the Community to have a single common currency.
The Council of Ministers tabled the Bill late considering the fact that negotiations and signing of the EAC Monetary Union concluded after two years and came into force in November 2013 when the leaders of Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania appended their signatures to the protocol on its establishment.
The institute was supposed to be set up by 2015 according to the schedule of the earlier set road map for realising the Monetary Union.
In their recent submissions to the EALA committee, members of the East African Business Council (EABC) highlighted the delay but appreciated the Assembly’s effort to get input from stakeholders, including the private sector.
Lilian Awinja, the EABC Executive Director, wrote requesting EALA and other Community organs to expedite the process in order to further support the establishment of the Monetary Union as an important pillar of the EAC integration process.
The draft law has sections on matters such as functions, governance and funding of the institute, as well as its independence and where it will be headquartered within the now six-member bloc, after last year’s admission of South Sudan.
“As a result of the extensive interactions with the Deputy Secretaries General and the Council of Ministers on the details of the Bill, the Committee made a number of observations and subsequent recommendations for amendments to the Bill,” Abdikadir told lawmakers after the Bill was tabled.
The Committee started the consultative meetings early last month. Stakeholder consultations on the draft law previously involved ministers responsible for finance, central banks, ministers responsible for EAC affairs, capital market authorities, the private sector, pensions regulatory authorities and insurance regulators, among others.
Despite the delay, however, Abdikadir told the House that the Council of Ministers has expressed confidence that, going forward, after consideration by the Assembly, it would be able to fast track implementation as per the regional leaders’ directive during the February 23 Ordinary EAC Heads of State Summit in Kampala, Uganda.
The communique, issued after the Kampala meeting, directed the Council to expedite establishment of the institute and others related to the Monetary Union.
During debate on Thursday, lawmakers had other concerns beyond the delayed establishment of the institute.
One was the uncertainty on how the institute, once in place, will be funded and staffed appropriately so that it duly delivers on its mandate, given the fact that nearly all the existing institutions and organs of the Community, including the Assembly, lack enough funds.
MP Susan Nakawuki (Uganda) said: “We are busy coming up with another institution of the Community but current institutions are choking for lack of funds”.