RE: “New bill to blacklist offending contractors, give preferential treatment to local firms” (The New Times, October 12). As much as we embrace Made-in-Rwanda, we also need to respect our regional commitments. One of the fundamental principles of the Protocol on the Establishment of the EAC Common Market is the observance of the principle of non-discrimination for persons, goods and services from other EAC Partner States on grounds of nationality.
10 per cent local preference for bidders from other EAC States and COMESA as enshrined in our current Procurement Act is in line with the EAC Common Market Protocol. This is indeed commendable. However, the proposal to give a 15 per cent local preference to goods produced in Rwanda and 10 per cent to companies registered in Rwanda during the procurement of works, consultancy services and non-consultant services negates Article 17 (the principle of national treatment) under the EAC Common Market Protocol. This provision shall be construed as a Non Confirming Measure by other EAC Partner States.
A company registered in any EAC State needs to be equally treated like a Rwandan company during the procurement process. A product made in another EAC State, a service and a service supplier from another EAC State needs to be accorded treatment not less favourable than that accorded to similar service and service supplier from Rwanda during the procurement process.
Made-in-Rwanda needs to exclusively be taken to a higher level using trade promotions but not legislation if we are to respect our regional commitments. This is the choice that we made. These are the rules of the game.