The minister said reluctance in communicating the integration agenda has increasingly constrained the growth and expansion of the private sector
The state minister for the East Africa Community Affairs, Julius Wandera, has castigated government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) over their reluctance in promoting regional integration, especially in regard to the common market protocol.
The minister said reluctance in communicating the integration agenda has increasingly constrained the growth and expansion of the private sector, on which government is relying to drive the country into a middle income status under vision 2040.
"I am also aware that we have not fully realised many of the provisions in the common market protocol. We still have challenges, one of the most significant being awareness creation. That is partly why our people cannot freely crisscross the borders of the EAC partner states as envisaged in the protocol. It is also partly why people cannot reside and establish business in any partner state of their choice. This reluctance is also constraining our efforts to hit the vision 2040 agenda and it must stop," he said.
This was during a consultative meeting with communication officers from all government departments and agencies, at the statistics house on Tuesday.
Wandera said the EAC common market seeks to widen and deepen cooperation among the partner states in economic and social fields, to ensure the achievement of a single market devoid of all internal restrictions on trade.
"It is therefore a clear opportunity for our brethren in the private sector to take advantage of the neighboring markets across the borders. However, to fully benefit from it, the implementation of the common market protocol requires various actions by several MDAs, the private sector and the civil society in the short, medium and long term. It will thus be a disservice on our part and frustrating to the public if we do not use our positions to ensure that Ugandans benefit from the rights and freedoms provided in the protocols," Wandera said.
He said the protocol also represents the second stage of the regional integration process, following the customs union, which became fully operational in January 2010.
According to Daniel Mugulusi, the undersecretaries of the ministry of East Africa Community Affairs (MEACA), there have been several constraints leading to reluctance on the integration agenda, but are currently being worked out.
"Some have been due to budgetary constraints and others due to internal communication blockages, but we are addressing that to ensure that every person in the country is communicated to," he said.
He nevertheless blamed MDAs for failing to attend meetings despite numerous invitations from the ministry to discuss the integration agenda
"We have various sub committees in the EAC integration agenda, such as a subcommittee on communication, movement of labour and capital, but we have not been moving as fast as we ought to in operationalizing the committees, because sometimes there are no experts to guide us," he said.