East African Community Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera has said that partner states are committed to making the EAC monetary union into reality.
He says apart from the ongoing negotiations of the East African Monetary Union (EAMU) Protocol, the partner states have intensified preparedness for the crucial harmonization of monetary and exchange rate policies, payment and settlement system and regionalisation of the financial sector in order to create a single financial market.
“I would like to state unequivocally that the lessons of Europe, as those of other regional economic communities, serve as a lesson to help strengthen and shape the EAC Monetary Union,” he said.
He was opening the EAC-IMF regional conference on the integration of the financial sector in Arusha yesterday.
The high level conference is aimed at brainstorming on the current status, achievements and prospects of the EAC, with special reference to the integration of the financial sector.
It is being attended by a broad spectrum of stakeholders of the EAC integration and global development partnership, including policymakers, scholars and researchers, business leaders, and civil society.
Dr Sezibera commended the IMF for its technical and other support towards the EAMU process.
“It was a great honour for the EAC to be granted observer status at the IMF, a great gesture of the Fund’s belief in us. I would like to assure the Fund that the partner states of the EAC are committed to turning the EAC Monetary Union into reality,” he added.
Sezibera expressed hope that the conference would brainstorm on how to avoid the pitfalls being experienced in the eurozone.
However, he stressed that at the end of the day, East Africa would have to craft a monetary union that serves its unique purposes and aspirations.
On capital markets, he mentioned that the removal of restrictions on capital flows should serve as a catalyst for capital market development and the provision of long-term and risk capital most needed to spur economic development.
At the EAC level, there were definitive programmes ongoing towards the promotion of a regional capital markets regime and institutions, he said, calling for insights on how best to expeditiously work on financial sector regionalisation.
Recognizing a big challenge ahead, Sezibera called for sharing of experiences and best practices as well as identify areas of strategic
co-operation to push forward the regional integration and its development objectives.
He underscored that the 4th EAC Development Strategy (2011-2016) not only signals the entry of the EAC into the new phase of deepening the
integration process but also marks a watershed in the evolution of the Community to the concretization phase.
“It would not be business as usual as the EAC moves to the next stage,” he asserted.
He reiterated the bloc’s primary objective to develop a single market and investment area in East Africa that is anchored on the twin pillars of internal free trade and liberal trade with the rest of the world, noting that the ultimate aim was to establish a political federation.
Citing the customs union and common market, Dr Sezibera pointed out that the bloc had over time evolved strong institutions, legal frameworks and operational modalities in the promotion of a viable and vibrant integrated market.
Meanwhile, the secretary general announced plans to convene a retreat of ministers responsible for Finance, permanent secretaries of ministries responsible for Finance, ministers of EAC Affairs, and central bank gvernors in April, expected to facilitate an informal engagement of the top policy makers on the agenda of the EAC monetary union in order to have a common view.