The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) currently meeting in Kigali, on Thursday called for the fast tracking of the roadmap to effect the Common Market.
The legislators want the EAC Secretariat to immediately come up with a phased approach specifying the role of the different organs of the EAC in implementing the Common Market before July 1, 2010 when the protocol comes into force.
“The Secretariat as a catalyst for integration and implementation of the Common Market must tell us our role. You must apportion each institution and we need a proper plan of activities and the expected output,” said James Ndahiro, the Chairman of the committee on Communication, Trade and Investment.
The Common Market seeks to promote free movement of goods, services, labour and capital within the East African Community (EAC).
“Operationalisation of the Common Market is not a single man’s duty nor is it for one institution. Every institution that is involved in the integration process has a part to play,” Ndahiro said during the 4th meeting of the 3rd session of the EALA.
This was in reaction to a report by EAC deputy Secretary General ( Planning and Infrastructure), Alloys Mutabingwa on progress made so far in laying the ground work for the Common Market.
While the ratification process of the Protocol is almost complete, with only Kenya remaining to ratify the protocol of the five member states, Mutabingwa reported that the Secretariat had made progress by commissioning a study on the institutional prerequisites for the functioning of Common Market.
To the contrary, legislators generally expressed dissatisfaction on the progress, arguing that the Secretariat must come with a time bound framework.
The legislators also observed miscommunication among the citizens of the Community about the actual timeframe for realization of the Common Market.
“If we are not careful, come July 1, people will be frustrated because they think that this is when the Common Market will start,” Patricia Hajabakiga said.
Juma Mwapachu, the EAC Secretary General clarified that July 1, will kick off the process of how to implement the Common Market.
“We are going to begin (on July 1) the definition phase of exactly what is going to be done and I fear that out there is a feeling that from July 1, we are going to have the Common Market – no!”
The Secretary General also reaffirmed that the Community is on track to achieve a Common Market with a number of institutions in the region in the phase of harmonization.
“We are going into that very critical phase of deeper integration of our region - but it is the most complex stage of our integration.”
The Common Market Protocol was signed on November 20, 2009 in Arusha during 11th Summit of the EAC Heads of State.