The Bill on Cross-Border Trade Sails Through

EALA legislative assembly in session

A bill that seeks to fast-track movement of professionals within the East African Community bloc has sailed through the first reading in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

The EAC Cross Border Trade in Professional Services Bill, 2017 was read for the first time on Tuesday. It seeks to make provisions for opening the country borders for professionals to practice throughout the Community.

Mr. Fred Mukasa Mbidde, a lawmaker from Uganda who moved it, says once enacted the Bill is set to boost the implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol which aims to achieve free movement of persons, labor and services.

At the same time, the bill should see the operationalization of Article 76 of the EAC Treaty which provides for the rights of establishment and residence of the citizens within the Community.

In the same regard, it takes into account the provisions of Article 10 on free movement of workers and Article 11 on harmonization and mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications across the region.

According to a senior public relations officer with EALA, Mr Bobi Odiko, having sailed through the first reading in the House, the EAC Cross Border Trade in Professional Services Bill, 2017 will now be committed to the relevant committees. Three other crucial bills were passed by the House. These are the EAC Youth Council Bill, 2017, the EAC Mining Bill, 2017 and the EAC Appropriation Bill, 2017 and would also be taken to the House committees before they are formally debated.

The EAC Mining Bill 2017, moved by Chris Opoka Okumu (Uganda) hopes to provide legal framework for the regulation of mining operations in the Community.

It seeks to implement the EAC Vision 2050 and specifically to operationalize Article 114(2) (c) (iv) of the EAC Treaty which calls for harmonization of mining regulations to ensure environmentally friendly and sound mining practices.

The Bill further provides for a transparent and accountable mechanism for the reporting of mining and mineral related activities in the Community. It is to ultimately reduce the differences in the operating environment for the mining sector.

The EAC Youth Council Bill, 2017 moved by Ms. Susan Nakawuki (Uganda) is premised on Article 120 of the EAC Treaty and seeks to implement the EAC Youth Policy 2014 which is an integral part of the 4th EAC Development Strategy 2011/2012 - 2015/2016.