From watching the news, it is clear that MPs, News Anchors and anyone hyping the free movement of Labour, Capital, Right of Residence and other benefits of being a citizen of EAC member states haven't read the EAC Protocol document and its annexes. Am trying to find what's gonna be different effective July 1st, and "Not much" seems to be the answer.
For one, there really is no such thing as free movement of labour.The Annex on Free Movement of Workers unsays that. I had held out on reneweing my work permit, but my employer will still need to part with the money. I actually consider myself lucky since most of my friends have had to pay for their permits. I think what the EAC protocol document does is 'steamline' the application for work permits; whatever that means. So friends and relatives, please stop calling me for job opportunities in UG, will you?
Here is another fallacy that Kenyans in Uganda are spreading; that after the 'borders open' on Thursday, Kenyans can come here and buy up land and property in the name of Right of Residence and Free Movement of Capital. Again, "The Partner States hereby agree that access to and use of land and premises shall be governed by the national policies and laws of the Partner States". The Land Act in Uganda is very clear. All land belongs to the citizens, and a company is only considered citizen if its majority shareholding is by a Ugandan(s). Non-citizens can lease land for upto 99 years, but the Investment Act says that non-citizens can't lease land for crop and animal production-unless they are helping Ugandan farmers. So beware, take calculated risks if you must, but the law is not on 100% on your side.
The Customs Union Protocol Article 10(Internal Tarrifs) states: Save as is provided in Article 11 of this Protocol, the Partner States shall, upon the coming into force of this Protocol, eliminate all internal tariffs and other charges of equivalent effect on trade among them, in accordance with the provisions of Article 14 of this Protocol.
Then Article 11 States Thus: The establishment of the Customs Union shall be progressive in the course of a transitional period of five years from the coming into force of this Protocol.
Going back to Part 2 of Article 10:
2. The Partner States agree that upon the coming into force of this Protocol and for the purpose of the transition into a Customs Union:
(a) goods to and from the Republic of Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania shall be duty free; and
(b) goods from the Republic of Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania into the Republic of Kenya shall be duty free.
3. Goods from the Republic of Kenya into the Republic of Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania shall be categorised as follows:
(a) Category A goods, which shall be eligible for immediate duty free treatment; and
(b) Category B goods, which shall be eligible for gradual tariff reduction.
That gradual period is five years. Five Years. Five...
There, you have it! I had to verify that I have the current document.
Me, I will believe the hype when I see it.
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