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SME body speaks out on government’s budget plan, COVID-19 and economy

John Walugembe addressing journalists at his offices in Ntinda on Sept.12.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | John Walugembe, the executive director of Federation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Uganda has urged the government to practically implement its proposed economic recovery programme in a bid to improve peoples’ livelihoods.

Walugembe speaks for the umbrella/business association that brings together over 112,000 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises across 20 sectors in the country.

“The federation welcomes government’s focus on restoring business activity through implementing a range of fiscal and monetary measures,” he said before journalists at his offices in Ntinda over the weekend.

He added that the government’s plan to continue funding the ‘Emyooga’ programme and extending cheap credit to the business community through Uganda Development Bank is a step in the right direction.

He also welcomes the intention of establishing business development support centres.

However, Walugembe said, business development centres should be championed by the private sector for them to achieve tangible results.

He added that, the modalities for accessing the small business recovery funds should be announced as soon as possible; the UDB should be encouraged to continue adapting its products to make them more business friendly; the ‘Emyooga’ scheme should be combined with extensive education and awareness campaigns to achieve results.

In addition, Walugembe commented on the exit of international brands/firms from Uganda like chain supermarkets (Game and Shoprite and Africell in telecommunication), saying government needs to further improve the business environment through tax policies, enhancing human resource capabilities and fighting corruption.

“It is dangerous to attract investors and you do not keep them,” he said, “It is a vote of no confidence in the economy.”

On the COVID-19, the federation urges its members and the public in general to adhere to the standard operating procedures to avoid the possibility of having a third wave and lockdown which would reverse economy recovery efforts.

He urges government to intensify vaccination efforts and invest heavily in equipment required to fight the pandemic.

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