Civil Society Organisations and ACTADE have on Tuesday held a press briefing in Bukoto ahead of the 9th Annual Trade Sector Performance Review.
Under the Southern and East African Trade Initiative (SEATINI), CSOs asked the government to address challenges of Agro-based Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) for their competitiveness and national export development.
The 9th Annual Trade Sector Performance Review for the year 2017/18 by the Ministry of Trade and Cooperatives (MTIC) is taking place under the theme “Enhancing competitiveness of MSMES for National Export Development.”
In Uganda, MSMEs account for approximately 90% of Uganda’s private sector, employ more than 2.5M people, generates over 80% of the Uganda’s manufactured output and contribute up to 18% of the country’s GDP.
Speaking during the Presser, CSBAG’s Carol Namagembe commented: “Inspite of the key role that Agro-based MSMEs play, our engagement with them have revealed that they are faced with numerous challenges, both policy and practice, which if not addressed will continue to undermine their competitiveness for National Export Development.
“As Civil society, we call upon the government of Uganda through the relevant ministries, Departments and Agencies to tackle the challenges of Agro-based MSMEs for their competitiveness and National Export development.”
Mutaasa Humphrey, Managing Director at Agri-point Initiatives advised the government to change the slogan from Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) to Brand Uganda first.
The CSOs also recommended the government to put in place special packages for financing Agro-based MSMEs through low interest rate loans.
The Ministry of Trade was also asked to engage the Ministry of Energy to come up with special electricity tariffs for SMEs in agro-processing.
The government was asked to amend the Public Procurement Act to offer first priority of supply of agro-processed products to local MSMEs.
“Private institutions like Supermarkets, Schools and hotels among others should also be encouraged to promote, purchase and consume locally produced Agricultural products,” Namagembe noted.