The State House Investors Protection Unit Head, Col. Edith Nakalema has urged policymakers and other economy stakeholders to support each other in promoting investments in Uganda.
“We should keep on engaging ourselves to deal with challenges and get solutions to the resistance we face to ensure that we all move well,” she said.
Col. Nakalema made the remarks today during a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kampala. The meeting aimed at coordinating economy stakeholders to create a secure investment landscape, was attended by policymakers from government ministries and agencies, bank executives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) leaders.
The State House Investors Protection Unit was established by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni this year to collaboratively promote and protect a thriving investment climate in Uganda.
Col. Nakalema also underscored the vital role of MSMEs in promoting growth of the country’s economy, saying that they should be accorded all the support they need to ensure that they thrive.
“More work is needed to support the indigenous investors,” Col. Nakalema noted.
She further highlighted the key issues that policymakers should address while supporting MSMEs such as costs and terms in accessing business loans, alleged high tax charges and cost of standardising local products for a global market.
On the other hand, Col. Nakalema explained that President Museveni’s key priority is to protect and guide investors to a right path and trigger double digit growth of Uganda’s economy.
“As the Head of the State House Investors Protection Unit, I pledge our zeal and collaboration with you to ensure that we eliminate bottlenecks that stifle our investments,” she added.
The National Planning Authority (NPA) Executive Director, Dr. Joseph Muvawala advised that Uganda should deal with the macro issues of the economy at enterprise and household levels if the country is to achieve the double-digit growth of the economy.
“We have done well in dealing with the micro stability of this country. We must now deal with the macro issues that are affecting our economy,” Dr. Muvawala said.
“No economy can sustain its growth well if the locals are not taking part in that economy,” he added.
On the other hand, the Director of Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Mr. Moses Kaggwa advised MSME owners to ensure that they formalise their businesses to enable them do business with the government and big firms.
“Most of them are informal, they are stuck there; in that informality yet they contribute a lot to the economy,” Mr. Kaggwa asserted.
Mr. Kaggwa also listed some of the interventions the government has set up to support MSMEs such as Emyooga, Parish Development Model, and Agricultural Credit Facility, among others.
“Government has so far injected Shs259bn in Emyooga and Shs1 trillion in Parish Development Model,” he said.
“Uganda Development Bank is also helping a lot of businesses both big and medium with favourable interest rates between 10 and 14 percent.”
The Executive Director of Supervision- Bank of Uganda, Dr. Tumubweine Twinemanzi explained that many stakeholders tend to focus on finances as the major problem MSMEs face, yet the core challenge starts from record keeping and governance.
“If you are going to solve a problem, then it’s better you first be honest to yourself. We should first focus on the fundamental problem which is financial literacy, governance and records keeping.”
The Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Mr. John Musinguzi said no form of taxation should affect businesses negatively or lead to the closure of an enterprise.
“A lot has been said that taxes are high but countries with high tax rates are thriving more,” he said.
“If we pay taxes to the government, and you pay tithe to God, then you keep money for your business to thrive, no business will close if you do that.”
Mr. Musinguzi further noted that they have set up a digitization agenda to make tax assessment and collection more efficient.
“The system is to ensure that no one is overtaxed and able to pay taxes at their places of convenience.”
The Executive Director of Uganda Bankers Association (UBA), Mr. Wilbrod Humphreys Owor said MSMEs are very critical in the development of a country and the government should ensure that they thrive by putting up incentives that support them.
Mr. Owor also urged MSME leaders to be cautious while accessing bank loans, saying, “You must understand when to use bank finance so that you are not choked by the debt.”
The Managing Director of Uganda Development Bank (UDB), Ms. Patricia Ojangole informed the participants that the bank has a package for MSMEs, and they can access loans of up to Shs720m depending on their annual turnover.
“All the Interventions we do are research based so that we can provide practical solutions to Ugandans,” she said.
The meeting was also attended by Bank of Uganda Executive Director for Finance, Mr. Richard Byarugaba, Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) Registrar General, Ms. Mercy Kainobwisho, the Commissioner for MSMEs at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Mr. Joshua Mutambi , among others.