Nairobi: Kenya has thrown its weight behind a proposal to penalise countries in the East African Community that fail to eliminate trade barriers. In its report on the state of non-tariff barriers, the ministry of the East African Community (EAC) recommends the creation of a legal framework to enforce directives. “The monitoring committees we have in place now are toothless,” said Eliazar Muga of the ministry of the EAC.
This declaration comes four days before the community marks the second anniversary of the Common Market protocol – a pact among member states to allow free movement of labour, services and goods across their borders. It is emerging that the journey towards this common market is facing various obstacles.
Earlier this month, the Rwandan government sought to have the East African Court of Justice handle cases on non-tariff barriers. The World Bank in its economic update on Kenya has also recommended stringent legal measures on the barriers.
In its report, the ministry notes that although weighbridges were reduced in the last quarter, new barriers have cropped up. Uganda is confiscating Kenyan dried fish headed for Congo while Tanzania has started rationing cereals that Kenyans can purchase.
The ministry also noted that the countries are yet to modify their national laws to allow free movement of labour and services.
“Nearly all partner states have not changed their national law to conform to the Common Market Protocol,” said ministry of EAC PS Chiboli Shakaba in a statement read on his behalf by Alfred Kitilo, the director of productive services at the ministry.
None of the countries have lifted the requirements of work permits for EAC citizens while only Kenya and Rwanda have scrapped the associated fees.
According to Mr Kitilo, clauses in the Kenyan law that make provisions for citizens of the country will need to be amended to include EAC citizens.
Further, the mandate of financial regulatory bodies such as the Central Bank and the Insurance Regulatory Authority will need to be re-evaluated as firms in these sectors expand into the region.