Members of the East African Legislative Assembly have voted to ban plastic bags across the region, following the passing of the Polythene Materials Control Bill, 2017 at their sitting in Arusha, Tanzania.
If eventually assented to by EAC leaders, the instrument will prohibit manufacture, sale, importation and use of polythene materials.
In March, debate on it was adjourned by the regional Assembly, which was then sitting in Kigali, after regional business leaders asked for further consultations, while the Tanzanian government was yet to submit its views on the Bill.
The Bill, which has faced numerous hurdles, was re-introduced for the second time during the August 2016 sitting in Arusha, Tanzania, by MP Patricia Hajabakiga (Rwanda) after it was not approved at the Heads of State summit in 2013.
“I can only say that I am happy. It was a long journey and would only hope the leadership of this Community will support this initiative and assent to this Bill. I wish east Africans a healthy environment to live in,” Hajabakiga, a former Environment minister in Rwanda, told The New Times yesterday.
Rwanda banned polythene bags in 2008.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers yesterday passed a $110 million 2017/18 EAC Budget.
The bloc’s new financial year budget envelope totaling $110,130,184 is allocated to the organs and institutions of the Community with the Secretariat getting $60,183,201.
In the Budget Allocations, the Assembly gets $17,996,959, the East African Court of Justice $4,140,166, Lake Victoria Basin Commission $11,960,643, Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation $2,466,655, the Inter University Council for East Africa $6,766,928, and the East African Science and Technology Commission $1,500,164.
The East Africa Kiswahili Commission is allocated $1,553,098; the East Africa Health Research Commission $2,225,324; and the East African Competition Authority $1,337,045.
Presenting a report on Budget Estimates, MP Dr Odette Nyiramilimo (Rwanda), chairperson of the Committee on General Purposes, among others, noted that, while the committee appreciates efforts to operationalise the Common Market Protocol, there are bottlenecks to address.
She said some legal and institutional bottlenecks need to be addressed if the Community is to realise tangible benefits.
“There is an outstanding recommendation of the Assembly to the Council of Ministers to initiate and bring a Bill in the House to better operationalise the Common Market Protocol,” she said.
The third Assembly was scheduled to be dissolved on Monday to pave way for the fourth Assembly due to be sworn in on Tuesday but sources said this may not happen given that Kenya had not submitted its representatives to the Assembly.