Government through the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC) has constituted a subcommittee to study conflicts between local traders and foreign investors “and come up with a national policy objective to guide trade by Non-Citizens.”
Among the government bodies involved in the process include tax body Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and the Ugandan National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).
An April 27th statement by Trade MInister, ampoule Amelia Kyambadde, states that “the subcommittee has finalized its report that will be presented to cabinet.”
According to Kyambadde, the committee seeks to interpret “the actual definition of a foreigner” and restrict “foreigners from dealing in certain categories of goods in some areas”.
The Ministry also intends to increase the investment threshold from the current requirement of USD 100,000 to agreed threshold in the Investment Code Act.
The reports follows recent demonstrations by native traders who are bitter that foreigners (mostly Chinese) are involving themselves in “petty and retail trade.”
A day after the strike, Minister Kyambadde told Parliament that there is “no law stopping Chinese traders from petty trade.”
Aside from the above concerns, traders are also agitated as per the statement, by “Delays in clearance of goods by UNBS and testing services, and unfair treatment of traders (tenants) by the landlords in Kampala.”
They also noted “Delays in clearance of goods by URA”, which is a result of “valuation at the Centralized Data Processing Center (DPC) and regular system failure of Asycuda World Clearing System”.
To address the problem of delays, URA “Upgraded servers for Asycuda a week ago”, which they say “has increased the speed of processing declarations.”
The revenue body has also “Increased the number of users under the Asycuda License from 1000 to 2000 users.”
With the support of NITA-U, a dedicated internet line has been granted by the Uganda Internet Exchange, which “will ensure uninterrupted internet services”.
To solve the problem of delays in clearance of goods by UNBS, the organization intends to boost the number of workers serving clients.
“Provided the budget allocations for financial year 2017/18 are released, it is the intention of UNBS to boost the staff numbers primarily at Malaba and Busia. This will allow for inspections to be carried out on a 24hr cycle,” reads the statement.
Regarding unfair treatment of traders (tenants) by the landlords in Kampala; MTIC has “engaged the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development to fast track the development of a regulation for Landlords and Tenant relationships”.
Kyambadde notes that when regulation is in place, it will sort out the current harassment and mistreatment of tenants by landlords.
“The Ministry is also following up with the relevant Government agencies to put a stop on the practice by landlords to charge tenants in US dollars. They should instead charge them in Ugandan shillings,” she concluded.