EAC Ministers Endorse Single Customs Territory

Dr.-Richard Sezibera says a common Tourist visa is a top priority.
Dr.-Richard Sezibera, the EAC SG says a common Tourist visa is a top priority.

The East African Council of Ministers has signed the framework document for a single customs territory which comes into effect in January 2014.

The single customs territory will complete the EAC institutional work on the customs union by removing internal borders for goods and cement East Africa as an integrated economic space.

Dr Richard Sezibera, the Secretary General of the East African Community said in Munyonyo on Saturday that the summit would also agree on the internationalized new generation East African passport and ensures its launch and issuance by November 2015.

This is coupled with the use of national identity cards as travel documents within East Africa for Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to allow freedom of movement of the people but without Tanzania.

Finalisation of the single tourist visa will be done in 2014, as well as harmonization and easing of the issuance of work permits, ratification of the double taxation agreement and harmonisation of the domestic taxes.

The monetary Union protocol signed on Saturday is expected to lead to the launch of a single currency and usher in an era of heightened fiscal and financial integration through maintenance of the macro- economic convergence criteria.

Sezibera says this will be spearheaded by the Central bank governors in all the five countries, who have already instituted an East African payment system that will allow East African people to conduct their businesses in local currency across the region.

The council of ministers have also agreed on a legally binding mechanism on tariff barriers  and wait for a response from the sectorial council on legal  and judicial affairs for legal input.

Meanwhile two new judges were appointed and sworn in to the East African Court of Justice. They include Dr Emmanuel Ujirashebuza from Rwanda as a Judge to the East African Court of Justice Appellate division replacing Lady Justice Emily Rusera Kaitesi who resigned.

Lady Justice Monica Mugyenyi from Uganda was appointed as a Judge at the EA court of justice first instance division to replace Justice Stella Arach Amoko who is also retiring.

Justice Isaac Lenaola from Kenya was also designated as the Deputy Principal Judge at the East African Court of Justice.

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