THE High-Level Task Force (HLTF), from the East African Community (EAC) Partner States is meeting in Kigali to negotiate pending annexes of the EAC Common Market Protocol, including the mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications and social security benefits.
Officiating at the opening of the forum yesterday, Robert Ssali, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of EAC Affairs, said that the effective establishment of the Protocol will be a key milestone for East Africans.
He added that this will only be possible after the finalization and implementation of all key annexes of the Protocol, which are being discussed in the seven-day meeting.
“Finalizing the remaining annexes is the way towards the successful implementation of the EAC protocol,” he said.
He added that this is the 4th meeting by the HLTF after the signing of the Common Market Protocol in November 2009 by the bloc’s Heads of State.
“It is our expectation that this part will be finalized during this round of negotiations taking into account the views from professional bodies from the partner states as some of them have already signed Mutual Recognition Agreements,” he stressed.
“Since resuming negotiations in May this year, I am happy to note that the High-Level Task Force has made notable progress towards the finalization of remaining annexes”.
Ssali noted that given the legal and policy challenges of social security benefits, it was expected that the forum would be able to formulate a draft directive to the Council of Ministers.
He urged the HLTF team to advise their respective governments accordingly and actively participate in the sensitization exercise because they are more knowledgeable of the EAC Common Market than other experts.
Amantius C. Msole, the chairperson of the HLTF, said that the Protocol will only succeed if all partner states implement the post-negotiation programme on time.