Business

SMEs Decry Escalating Costs of Doing Business

malady sick http://coparmex.org.mx/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/modules/theme-tools.php geneva;”>This disclosure was made at erectile order http://clothesthatwork.org/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-themes-list-table.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>a strategic inception workshop organised by Agency for Transformation (AFT) in a project sponsored by USAID/Governance Accountability Performance and Participation (GAPP) aimed at strengthening oversight role of private sector to improve budget integrity and reduce cost of doing business in Mityana and Mubende Districts.


Private sector actors, as key tax payers boldly discussed governance issues.


This was rare, because businesses are rarely concerned about public and governance issues.


They are usually keen on individual interests and struggling how to get by.


In the workshop that attracted a wide range of traders drawn from membership of Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry branches and Uganda Small Scale Industries Association.

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The CEO of AFT, Rwakakamba Morrison, informed the participants that the role of AFT was to disseminate relevant information that empowers the entrepreneurs and the private sector so as to demand for better services and accountability.


He urged traders to always keenly follow the budget and planning processes as taxpayers so as to influence policies that are business-friendly.


In his presentation that stirred the participants, Mr. Rwakakamba enunciated the World Bank report on doing business in Uganda with various indicators like the costs and duration of; starting a business, property registration, name reservation, tax assessments, business inspection and licencing among others.


In a stark contrast to the World Bank benchmark indicators, various participants gave a different account of the bottlenecks encountered in the day to day management of their businesses.


Central to this is the centralisation of the Uganda Registration Services Bureau services (URSB).


The participants averred that this makes the business registration process for the upcountry citizenry longer and the attendant costs of transport and accommodation in Kampala makes the process even more costly. Participants also made an observation that at URSB offices, there was a lot of bureaucracy which derails service delivery.


This in turn has created middlemen in form of commission agents who charge extra fees to expedite the registration process making the entire process expensive.


Indeed, this claim from participants is buttressed by the World Bank’s Doing business 2014 report which states that starting a business in Uganda requires an average of 15 procedures and costs an average of 32% of income per capita.


This, according to the report, means Uganda has the highest number of procedures for starting a business compared to other EAC countries.


The other concerns raised by the participants included Uganda Revenue Authority’s decision to use online tax registration yet most of the entrepreneurs are either computer illiterate or lack access to internet making the online tax registration and filing a problematic exercise.

Participants also complained about local authorities that arbitrarily charge exorbitant fees for trading licences without any assessments carried out yet tax dispute appeals always take long and are frustrated.


The other serious challenge especially affecting Agro-processors and Artisans is electricity.


The cost of power installation is high, the supply is insufficient and load shedding is unpredictable and this grossly affects the cost of production and the profit margins.


Mr. John Walugembe, the Executive Director of USSIA welcomed the AFT initiative with the support of USAID-GAPP and urged the participants to embrace AFT work in the district as stakeholders and partners.


He explained that the role of USSIA secretariat is taking the grievances of traders to the relevant state organs and pledged to address the issues raised by the participants with the relevant bodies both at the local and central Government levels.


The Director of Programs at AFT, Mr. Samson Akankiiza Mpiira highlighted the overall objective of the program and the modalities that would be used to disseminate information at the local level through district level engagements with duty bearers like USSIA, District Chamber of Commerce etc.


Other approaches include radio talk shows, dissemination of printable materials and formation of district budget committees for purposes of local coordination and creating synergies to maximise impact.

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