By vision reporters
THE East African Community Common Market takes effect today. About 500,000 jobs will be created in Uganda annually with the establishment of the common market, state minister for trade Nelson Gagawala has said.
Addressing journalists at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Tuesday, Gaggawala said most jobs will be created through outsourcing, as enterprises take advantage of the 130 million-people East African market. The market, which is made up of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, is to pave for free movement of labour, services, capital and goods.
It is projected that each of the five member states will create 500,000 jobs, or 2.5 million every year, according to Gaggawala.
â€œTraders will no longer have to suffer moving their products across the countries as some of the restrictions will be relaxed,â€ Gaggawala said.
The cost of doing business will reduce, following the development of efficient communication infrastructure through high-speed Internet connectivity across the region, he said.
The community plans to have a common energy network, through which member countries will share electricity supply.
The chairperson of the parliamentary committee on tourism, trade and industry, John Bosco Lubyayi, said the common market will provide enormous opportunities.
â€œEast Africans will be able to freely visit or cross into other East African countries for social, academic and business related purposes,â€ Lubyayi said in a statement to Parliament yesterday.
Consumers, according to Lubyayi, would get access to a variety of cheaper and better quality products and services, thanks to the competitive environment.
Lubyayi observed, however, that the operationalisation of the common market is a complex process.
Briefing the press last week, the first deputy premier and EAC affairs minister,
Eria Kategaya, said national and regional passports will continue to be used until all the member states have introduced national identity cards for their citizens.
â€œFrom July 1, businesses will have the right to establish in other EAC states, work permits will be issued within specific time periods and many service providers will be able to supply their services in other partner countries and receive equal treatment to that of domestic providers,â€ he explained.
â€œWork permits will not be removed because the common market protocol does not require the removal of work permits and work permit regimes are still applicable in most partner states,â€ he explained. But application procedure and fees for work permits will be harmonised.
The establishment of a common market involves reduction of barriers that prevent people, money and businesses originating from their partner states from moving around the region.
It is projected that the common market will push the regionâ€™s gross domestic product (GDP) to beyond $100b because of increased economic activity. The EAC GDP is about $75b.
On the free movement of capital, Tanzania and Burundi are yet to open up their capital accounts that are supposed to further quicken the processes. The two countries committed themselves to do so from 2010 to 2015.
Students moving to study in neighbouring countries will also require confirmation of admission, standard travel documents and a studentâ€™s pass not exceeding one year.
After the common market, the region will now move to a monetary union or single currency and finally the political union or single government.
(Joyce Namutebi,Catherine Bekunda, David Mugabe and Taddeo Bwambale)