The high cost of doing business, stagnant production levels, dominance of primary products and limited market intelligence are holding back Uganda’s export potential.
These bottlenecks and action needed to change the status quo were the centre of a discussion at a high level policy dialogue on export development and promotion in Uganda held Tuesday in Kampala. Uganda’s net exports decreased from 10.9% in 2012/13 to 8.4% in 2013/14
The dialogue was organised by Directorate of Economic Affairs and Research in the office of the President. Presidential Advisor on Finance and Planning Ezra Suruma moderated the high level policy dialogue whose theme was ” Export Initiatives to fast track the milestones of Vision 2040”.
“We have resources that are underutilised or even not utilised that can be exported . The 20% credit allocated to agriculture in the National Budget is inadequate to produce Uganda’s target of 20million bags of coffee by 2020,” said former Minister of Agriculture Vitoria Sekitoleko.
Elly Kamugisha. Executive Director, Uganda Export Promotion Board added that “we talk but act less; there is no or little help given to the Board so that we can pay international agencies for research and market information regarding our exports. However we have exports but the quantity and standard of products (quality) is lacking.”
“The government ought to formulate a dedicated policy on export and eliminate any corrupt officials inhibiting the optimisation of exports.”
Minister of State for Economic Monitoring, Henry Bayenzaki blamed it on inefficiencies in government. “We have 27 government agencies that only compete for mandates and don’t deliver to the expected. They operate under cover without the government knowing what they do. However the only way forward is to improve on the skills, cut short of bureaucratic tendencies, provide financing and implement policies.”
Suruma advised that focus should go to the provision of a mortgage scheme for farmers that need land, machinery, capital and other needs to break through large scale commercial farming. He urged an increase of tariffs on imports after consultations among the East African Countries.