SEATINI Uganda and Other CSOs Present Position Paper on the Trade and Industry Sector to the Parliamentary Committee on Trade in Response to the Ministerial Policy Statement for FY 2021/22
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under the Thematic Group on Trade which included SEATINI Uganda, CSBAG and ACTADE on 14th April 2021 officially presented to the Parliamentary Committee on Trade and Industry the CSO Position Paper on the Trade and Industry Sector in response to the Ministerial Policy Statement for FY 2021/22.
Presenting the Position Paper on behalf of CSOs under the Thematic Group on the Trade, Jane Nalunga the Executive Director at SEATINI Uganda implored the government to establish a specialized Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) recovery fund for businesses hit by COVID 19.
According to CSOs, the allocation of funds to the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) is still low (Ugx.39 billion for FY 2021/22) and this should be increased to enable UDB to cheap, affordable and accessible credit to MSMEs especially those in manufacturing.
Jane Nalunga further called on the government to increase the budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC) given its importance in resuscitating Uganda’s economy post COVID-19 pandemic. She also noted that Uganda does not have an updated National Trade Policy since the expiration of the Policy in 2018, thus this presents a challenge on what strategic direction the country should be taking regarding enhancing her trade competitiveness. She later emphasized that there is need for the Ministry of Trade to expedite the process of developing a new National Trade Policy which responds to the current dynamics and challenges to the sector.
CSOs also pointed out the prevalence and re-occurrence of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and trade tensions among East African Community (EAC) Partner States which has made it challenging for Ugandans to maximize on the benefits of Regional Integration.
On the issue of resolving trade tensions, CSOs called on the government to engage EAC Partner States especially the government of Rwanda to clear the continued stoppage of Ugandan goods, traders and trucks from accessing the Rwandan Market.
During the meeting, members of the Parliamentary Committee on Trade requested SEATINI Uganda and CSBAG to propose sectors where budget cuts could be made to fill the funding gaps in the trade sector. In response, Jane Nalunga said;
‘‘Budget cuts should be made to security because the country is not at war and in any case, the worst insecurity is when people are sleeping hungry and with no jobs.’’
Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Trade thanked CSOs under the Thematic Group on Trade for their proposals and also promised to further review the various recommendations made.