PARLIAMENT | EAC | SENSITIZATION
Parliament's budget Committee MPs have rejected a request of sh1.4b from the East African Community Affairs (EAC) Committee meant for sensitization and public awareness by the Ministry of East African Community Affairs in the 2023/2024 financial year.
This was during a meeting in which the EAC Committee Chairperson, Noeline Kisembo presented the Budget Framework Paper for the Ministry of East African Community Affairs on Tuesday. January 2023.
She pointed out that the approved funds of sh 720 million are not sufficient enough, saying that one of the main problems facing the Ministry of East African Affairs is visibility.
“Many Ugandans hardly know the importance of the EAC integration and how to benefit from it,” she said.
Kisembo said that with massive public awareness, it is hoped that participation in the EAC trade will improve, leading to benefits from the integration.
Defending the budget, Abdi Fadhir Chemaswet, the deputy chairperson of the committee said the use of billboards is intended to create a wider understanding of the EAC integration.
“We will agree that if we travel to many parts of Uganda, you will find that EAC is not well known. If you are to go to Karamoja, they will tell you that they do not understand EAC. It is only the border districts that do understand,” said Chemaswet.
However, MPs on the budget committee opposed the planned expenditure saying the focus should be put on mobilizing Ugandans to know the market opportunities within the EAC as opposed to spending on billboards.
“Having a billboard when I am not exporting, how does it help? We should look at activities that will enable a Ugandan to get money and take advantage of the EAC,” Dickson Kateshumbwa said.
James Kaberuka (Kinkizi County West) said the ministry should move away from spending on sensitization and instead invest in the promotion of trade in East Africa.
He said: “The issue of visibility has a relationship with what you do. EAC Federation is not for leisure; we have to make sure we do something because billboards will not promote EAC. We need to educate traders on how to exploit opportunities”.