Monday, August 24, 2015

PRESIDENT MUSEVENI ADDRESSES EALA IN KAMPALA

 President Yoweri Museveni shakes hands with the Deputy Clerk of EALA, Alex Obatre as Executives of the EAC and Parliament of Uganda look on
 H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni signs the visitors book at the Parliament of Uganda as the EALA Speaker, Rt. Hon Daniel F. Kidega looks on  
 H.E. President Museveni stresses a point at the Special Sitting.  On right is the EALA Speaker, Rt Hon Daniel F. Kidega.

EAST African Legislative Assembly, Arusha, August 24, 2015:  President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Friday addressed the 1st of the 4th Session of 3rd Assembly at the Parliament of Uganda in Kampala.

In his address, the President termed prosperity and security of the region as two key ingredients necessary to keep integration process on track.  He urged the EAC to support prosperity of the producers in the agricultural sector to support integration.  

“Prosperity is about services, markets and it is important to leverage and take advantage of the market”, H.E. Museveni said. The President maintained that it was time for the region to consolidate on the gains realised in the region

The President said that Uganda was key to export its agricultural products in the EAC region including sugar products.  “Uganda is today producing more sugar than it needs.  Following the discussions with H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta recently, we have agreed to open the market for this products further”, he said.  

The President maintained that Uganda was similarly open to receiving goods from Kenya under the integration arrangement. President Museveni said Kenyan exports to Uganda are estimated at $700 million up from $200 million in 1986 compared to imports worth $150 million up from $12 million in the same period.

He thanked President Kenyatta for agreeing to remove non-tariff barriers, deepen commercial ties and widen the regional market. President Museveni remarked that Uganda produces about 465,000 tonnes of sugar annually against a consumption of 320,000 tonnes, leaving it with a 145,000-tonne surplus.

He called on the EAC bloc to negotiate together with other blocs in the globe. “We have a reasonable market now and we can effectively compete. Let us negotiate with China and other big players”, he said.

The President called on Partner States to add value to production in order to enjoy competitiveness. “The Federal Republic of Ethiopia which has a population of 90 Million people, today assembles its automobile industries and this has led to creation of employment of over 160,000 jobs for the locals.   Automobile assemblage can reduce costs by 57%,” he said.

President Museveni said he submitted proposals to the Summit of EAC Heads of State to explore the possibility of local assemblage of vehicles.    “We need to create jobs, transfer technology for the region to be prosperous”, President Museveni told the attentive audience.

The President maintained that the EAC was on course and its progress irreversible. The President noted that the Community was on the verge of prosperous economic development and better quality of life for its citizens following the significant progress in a number of socio-economic and political spheres.

The Head of State hailed the forefathers of EAC for their visionary leadership. “I hail President Moi and Mwinyi who together with myself resurrected integration after seeing the benefits. I am grateful to them and we have since moved together, making tremendous progress” he added.

He lauded EALA for initiating the EAC Creative and Cultural Industries Bill saying it gave citizens such as performing artists to advantage of integration and to widen their markets.

On Security, the Head of State said that strategic security was key.  “We must put our interests fast and secure ourselves from those who want to dominate us, he said, adding that it was time for challenges such as NTBs to be weeded out once and for all.

He said Uganda was mapping strategies to be a first world country in the next 20 years and thus deemed it necessary to fight for its competitive space.  ‘Even if these were to happen, the question is how secure would Uganda be by itself?The President paused.

The Head of State said the region was opening up and clearing up strategic bottlenecks to be more prosperous.  He said the market fragmentation was now been consolidated. 
He however cited the challenges of insecurity faced in Burundi, South Sudan and Congo and said solutions were necessary.

H.E. Museveni said a better infrastructure was now been realized and said the region was on the way to deepening economic integration. The President gave a nod to EALA Speaker’s request on modalities to streamline assent of Bills during the meeting of the EAC Heads of State. 

“The principle of jointly signing (assent) of Bills when we sit as Summit is a good idea if we can finalise on the modalities”, H.E. Museveni said. The Head of State remarked that what the region now needed was to strengthen competitiveness, address costs doing business and reduce risks.

In attendance were key government officials led by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda, Rt Hon Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, EALA and Parliament of Uganda Members and representatives of the diplomatic corp among others.

In his welcome remarks, the Speaker of the EALA, Rt. Hon Daniel F. Kidega noted that the Sitting was taking place at an irreversible time in the regional integration process. He called on the Summit of EAC Heads of State to hasten the process of the Monetary Union and inevitably the Political Federation.  He told President Museveni and the Summit of the EAC Heads of State to revisit the issue of the fast-tracking the Political Federation

“This will enable us to be stronger and more united for without the Political Union, we shall remain vulnerable to world forces,” Rt. Hon Kidega noted.The EALA Speaker noted that the Assembly had made progress since December 2014 and cited some of the milestones realized.

“Since I took over the Speakership of the Assembly in December 2014, the Assembly has passed a total of 6 Bills, 5 Resolutions, adopted 12 Reports and asked the Council of Ministers to respond to sets of questions deemed vital to strengthening the EAC. 

We have also received 2 petitions from the youth and the regional Workers’ Union and the employer association. Both petitions are currently under review by the relevant Committees of EALA.  Our representative function has continued to be felt through engagements with different stakeholders even though this is an area we need to further strengthen”, he said.

The Assembly which commenced business on August 16th, 2015 has debated and adopted two key Committee Reports; one on investment Strategies in the region and another on the Legal Framework and implementation policies on the rights of Children.  It has also commenced on debate on the EAC Cultural and Creative Industries Bill, 2015.

The Speaker cited challenges facing the Assembly as that concerning the Assent of Bills stating that it was necessary to speed up the processes.“Whilst it is purely in order for Heads of State to receive briefs, before assenting to Bills, the logistical mode of having to move from one Partner State to another in itself present challenges.

We are of the view that the region takes advantage of the Summit sittings which can create opportune moment for the Summit Members to exercise their mandate as stipulated under Article 63.  Your Excellency, we shall seek your further advice on this matter” Speaker Kidega said. 

The Speaker also called on the stakeholders to ensure electioneering in the region does not disrupt nation building.“Unpatriotic politicians and citizens the Speaker noted, can stir emotions leading to disruption in society, erosion of investor confidence and lull in economic programmes, Speaker Kidega said. He urged stakeholders in the Partner States to reverse the trend.

There are undeniably some positive democratic milestones that we can be proud of as a region. There are also grave mistakes that we have made and that we must steer clear of in future.  We appeal to all actors concerned with elections as a matter of necessity to ensure citizens’ enjoy their fundamental political and civil liberties, promote a culture of peace and tolerance and insulate electoral management bodies from undue pressures. 

In this way, we stand to secure the future of our region for posterity, the regional Assembly Speaker stated.   Moving the vote of thanks, Hon Saoli Ole Nkanae noted that Uganda had progressed following the leadership of President Museveni.

“I have followed your history closely. Came from humble beginnings.  In the short span, he has transformed country from sectarian dictatorship that was non-performing to an economic country with opportunities for all”, Hon Nkanae said.

“Your role in resurrecting the EAC Community is laudable and we note that you have continued to fast-track integration and offer good leadership”, the legislator said.

 Hon Nkanae said that EALA was committed to actively playing its mandate to strengthen integration.
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