Mbarara Traders Pile Pressure on Foreign Counterparts

Business owners in Mbarara yesterday put government on the spot to explain why foreign traders are being given preferential treatment while the indigenous people are left to suffer.

The traders were meeting with officials from the Ethics and Integrity Ministry under the Office of the President.

The meeting according to Moses Makumbi, advice Ministry’s deputy director for ethics education was aimed training business owners to emphasize ethics while conducting their work.

The traders however were responded that government had no moral authority to demand for good business practices from the traders when it is siding with their foreign competitors.

One of them Hajj Jamilu Bakyanse raised concern over the tax exemptions that the foreign traders, order mainly Indians and Chinese as well as ease with which they ship in merchandise from abroad.

For this reason he noted that Ugandan traders have no chance over their competitors when they have to sell the same commodities at higher prices due to the taxes.

“People keep labeling us as greedy and obsessed with profiteering, more about yet in truth it is because of the unleveled playing field,” he said.

During the meeting, the traders also complained about hawkers who carry out unregistered businesses near their shops yet it’s the latter that pay rent and taxes.


However, in response, the Mbarara deputy mayor Francis Bemanya pushed the blame back to the traders from whom the hawkers purchase their merchandise.

Deputy Mayor Mbarara Francis Bemanya speaking to journalists after the conference
Deputy Mayor Mbarara Francis Bemanya speaking to journalists after the conference

“Hawkers normally don’t have enough money to start up big businesses but it’s you who sell them commodities to start up business; so you shouldn’t be complaining about them.”

Mr. Bemanya also told them that at the moment it is government to enforce the minimum wage since Uganda has many people who are unemployed and willing to work and be paid little money.

He urged the traders to desist from illicit trade deals, bribery and corruption which irrevocably harm the society’s trust in political and business leaders.

Makumbi promised to forward the matters discussed especially about the foreign traders to Minister Simon Lokodo who will iron them out with the Uganda Revenue Authority and other stake holders.

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