African Parliamentary Speakers Conference Concluded Today at PAP
31 August 2012, Pan African Parliament
Midrand, Johannesburg – The two-day Conference of African Parliamentary Speakers, organized by the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) here in Midrand concluded its deliberations and issued its Communiqué today.
On the issue of the revision of the PAP Protocol, the Speakers "affirmed their support for the review of the Protocol establishing the PAP”, and agreed "to sensitize their respective National Parliaments on the need for the PAP to have legislative powers to ensure effective oversight of AU organs and to achieve the goal of harmonization of the legislation on the continent”.
They also agreed that "Speakers of National Parliaments will sensitize their respective Heads of State and Government on the urgent need to adopt the revised Protocol in January 2013”.
On the issue of hindrances affecting intra-African trade, they resolved that "the PAP and National Parliaments will work towards the elimination of trade barriers in Africa”, and that "the PAP and national Parliaments encourage their respective governments to develop harmonized border regulations in order to reduce the high costs of informal payments that impede trade within the continent”.
On the issue of intra-African trade, development and employment in Africa, the Speakers resolved that "Parliaments, through the appropriate committees, sensitize Governments to put in place policies that can help to support trade integration within the continent”, as that "the PAP draft model laws that harmonize trade legislation, regulations and standards”, that "Parliaments advocate for evidence-based policy making”, and that "Parliaments ensure accountability to the trade promotion agenda”.
On the issue of ratification of AU Instruments, they decided that National Parliaments should "develop mechanisms to track the ratification, domestication and implementation of the AU Decisions”, and that the PAP should "undertake periodic monitoring missions to monitor compliance, identify best practices and urge action on ratification, domestication and implementation”. They further resolved that the PAP should "work with African civil society and media organizations to hold parliamentary briefings and public hearings”, and that the PAP should "coordinate the reporting mechanism that tracks and accelerate ratification, domestication and implementation”. They also called on the PAP and the National Assemblies "to ensure that the ratification and implementation of AU instruments becomes an annual standing item on the Parliamentary agenda”. They further called on upon African Parliaments "to urge their respective Governments to provide resources to achieve accelerated popularization, ratification and implementation”.
The Conference, which kicked off here in Midrand on Thursday, was held under the theme "The Role of Parliaments in Promoting Intra-African Trade to Achieve Development and Employment in Africa”.
In his opening remarks, Hon. Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi, President of the PAP, noted that "intra–African trade will serve as bedrock for Africa’s economic resilience against macroeconomic shocks and protectionist trade policies if properly harnessed”. He added that "enhanced intra-African trade will also provide employment opportunities for the teeming population of Africa’s unemployed youths”. "It is time that Africa begins to plan for the future of these young people, because the harm that today’s youth unemployment is doing will be felt for decades to come. The time to act is now and we must seize the moment to ensure the continued economic viability of our continent”, he said.
Hon. Amadi also urged the Speakers to support the transformation and strengthening of the PAP. He assured the Speakers of African Parliaments that a transformed Pan African Parliament would not derogate on the powers and national sovereignty of their parliaments but will co–exist with them. "A Pan-African Parliament with legislative powers will be a strong pillar of support to National and Regional Parliaments across the continent, especially when their continued existence is threatened”, he emphasized
The Conference was also addressed by H.E Mr. Donald Kaberuka, the President of the African Development Bank (ADB), who presented an overview of the factors mitigating against intra-African trade.
Mr. Kaberuka noted that trade holds remarkable unrealized potential as a driver of growth. He stated its economic benefits which included improved food security, increased potential for regional value chains to drive exports and new opportunities through the growth of trade and services. "These benefits would lead to higher growth, more jobs and more opportunities for poverty reduction”, he said.
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