SEATINI-Uganda has called on Parliament to ensure that funding to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC) for the FY2018/19 is in line with the National Development Plan (NDP) II in order to realize the Budget theme and vision 20140.
Presenting their position paper on MTIC ministerial policy statement for the financial year 2018/19, to the Parliamentary committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry, SEATINI noted that MTIC is important in establishing backward and forward linkages between manufacturing and agriculture, creating employment and wealth, tackling the ever increasing Trade deficit (currently at USD 238.80 Million), addressing the ever increasing indebtedness (projected at US$ 10.74 Billion for the FY 2018/19), advancing technology, stimulating agricultural production and productivity, and export competitiveness and ultimately improving people’s livelihoods. In order to address these challenges, to 0.5% of the 29.274 Trillion UGX Budget for the FY 2018/19 which has been allocated to the ministry is inadequate.
In order to develop appropriate and enabling trade and trade related policies and regulatory frameworks while ensuring their effective implementation, in order to increase on her exports bill and address standards while supporting domestic industrialization, and local economic development through District Commercial Officers, SEATINI made the following recommendations to the Parliamentary Committee:
- Budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives should be made a priority sector given its role in the economic development of the country. The sector should therefore be allocated with more resources in line with the proposals in the NDPII. This is more so given the fact that the ministry houses key agencies like UEPB, UDC; UIRI; UDC which at the moment are underfunded.
- There is need to increase budgetary allocations to the sector to finance trade and investment related negotiations to protect and promote our interests/positions, policy space and in order to be able to negotiate a conducive policy for industrialization and Trade. In order to facilitate more comprehensive ongoing trade and investment negotiations…and undertake more inclusive policy processes, there is need to budget for the Inter Institutional Trade Committee (IITC) (which is a Multi-Stakeholder consultation committee).
- UNBS should be allocated with enough resources to raise awareness of the business community, farmers, manufacturers and consumers about standards compliance; and also train value chain actors within specific products. UNBS also has a critical role to harmonize national standards with regional ones to facilitate access of Ugandan products in regional markets. In order to increase its coverage, the UNBs should establish and furnish structures in at least 10 key districts to ensure that testing, standardization and certification services are brought closer to the value chain actors.
- It is critical that funding for MSMEs be prioritized in order to: Train MSMEs in boosting value addition, for increased trade and competitiveness; enhance the capacity of MSMEs to benefit from the opportunities therein policies like Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) and Local Content; and engage MSMEs in policy processes pertaining to national, regional and global markets to ensure that their interests are taken into account.
- With the EU funded District Commercial Services Support (DICOSS) Project ending, there need to be allocation of funding to continue this important work done by the DCOs.
- The MTIC needs more budgetary allocation to strengthen the cooperative movement especially in enabling farmers come together to produce in bulk, add value and be able to effectively market their goods.
- In order to ensure coherence in our trade negotiating positions and policies, the MTIC should take lead in trade and trade related policies and negotiations at all levels and also be in charge of all Trade related Agencies.
Members of Parliament Respond:
Led by Hon. Alex Ruhunda, the Chairperson of the Committee, SEATINI-Uganda was commended for the continued good work of building the capacity of Members of Parliament on understanding the dynamics and implications of Trade Policies and Negotiations on development, through research and advocacy. They also reiterated on the need to ensure adequate funding to the Ministry of Trade in order to ensure that increased intra-regional trade and markets being negotiated at regional, sub-regional, continental and global levels are fully put to use through increased value added exports and services.
The committee assured SEATINI that like it was done for the Budget Framework Paper for FY2018/19 where majority of the proposals were taken onboard, efforts will be undertaken to consider that the positions in the Ministerial Policy Statement for the MTIC are considered.