Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) has set up a helpline for whistleblowers with complaints related to solicitation of bribes from prospective investors.
The toll free hotline (0800100770) which will be manned by UPDF officers will be housed under UIA’s one stop centre and is intended to curb the rampant corruption cases impending investment.
The State Minister for Investment and Privatization, seek Evelyne Anite while launching the helpline on Monday said the development will reinforce President’s earlier commitment to crack the whip on corrupt government officials.
This year alone, price three civil servants including a Minister have been arrested for extorting millions of money from foreign investors seeking to do business in Uganda.
“The President is working hard to attract investors into the country but only to be frustrated by uncouth, selfish and malicious characters who charge investors for services. Such people are depriving Ugandans the much needed jobs,” Anite told journalists at the UIA head office on Monday afternoon.
“We have launched this free helpline which I together with the UIA Executive Director will supervise daily. The UPDF will be in charge of the hotline because civilians have become extremely corrupt.”
She said the UPDF has widely been credited for being among the most disciplined and efficient institutions.
Upon reception of the complaints, Anite said investigations will be pursued in collaboration with the police and the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and appropriate actions taken including regular reports to name and shame culprits.
She revealed that the President has directed that individuals suspected of extorting money from investors will no longer be granted bail.
The Minister says Uganda is losing a significant number of investors to neighbouring countries like Kenya and Rwanda due to graft and bureaucracy which have dominated processes of business registration, land and license acquisition.
“Almost 80% of the investors doing business in Kigali first came to Uganda but they were scared away by our corruption and bureaucracy. They have told us they can only set up shop here if corruption is dealt with,” she said.
She alluded to the numerous occasions where middlemen have condemned her for allocating land to investors in the Namanve Industrial Park at no cost. “It is a policy that we give investors free land in the industrial parks. But unscrupulous middlemen get enraged whenever I do this because they would otherwise broker deals off this land.”
The newly appointed UIA Executive Director, Jolly Kaguhangire said the complaints helpline was timely and necessary for efficiency and transparency in facilitating investment.
“This has come at a time when I was in process of establishing a complaints unit within UIA. Feedback is important in creating investor confidence which is nonexistent,” Kaguhangire said.