East Africa: Regional Parliament wants policy on investment

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THE East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is pushing for the enactment of a regional policy on investment to attract investments in the East African Community (EAC).

According to the regional parliament, the EAC region does not have a common investment policy to guide investment on a regional basis.

“In all our five partner states, there is something that has not been highlighted, which we think should be captured for favorable investment climate. We need an investment policy as soon as yesterday, so that we can improve the climate of doing business in the region,” said Nancy Abisai, EALA MP Kenya.

Debating the report on communication, trade and investments by the EALA’s committee on trade, the assembly which is currently sitting in Kampala, said there is need to formulate a policy for a corrupt free investment climate.

The MPs also want the investment policy to address issues of incentives especially to local investors which they said are being taxed heavily at the expense of foreign investors.

“Our local investors should be exempted from taxes, tax incentives should not only be extended to international investors alone but also local our investors,” said Suzan Nakawuki EALA MP Uganda.

Presenting the report on trade and investments, Fred Mukasa Mbidde, the chairperson of the trade committee told the assembly that investment volumes were still very low in the EAC, with Kenya being the leading cross boarder investor in the region. He noted that the existing investment provisions portray a number of deficiencies, which calls for development of an appropriate legal and institutional framework for investment in the EAC Region.

“We need an investment policy that provides for the creation of jobs and the actual employment of the East Africans. Most of the investments in the region, 50 percent of the jobs are occupied by foreigners who act as accountants, cooks this should stop,” said Mukasa Mbidde.

The MPs want the Policy to address the so called ‘brief case’ investors which come to East Africa in the name of investors and instead engage in petty investment.

“These brief case investors should not be allowed to invest in our region. They borrow money come here and do petty investment and at the end of the day they send all the profits back to their countries,” Said MP Sara Bonaya.

On behalf of the council of ministers, Shem Bageine welcomed the proposed policy on investment which he said the council would discuss for a way forward saying it was a good idea to boost investment in the region.

Bageine also on Tuesday assured the regional parliament sitting at the parliamentary building in Kampala, that all trade disputes will now be handled by the East African court of justice as opposed to local regional courts.

"There is need for us as partner states to harmonies policies on investment. I have noted that the amount of money an investor needs to come and invest in a certain country in the EAC is still very low, so they end up expatriating all the profits,” said Bageine.

SOURCE: New Vision, August 21st 2015: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/672375-regional-parliament-wants-policy-...