By Max Patrick Ocaido
PARLIAMENT. The Parliamentary Committee on Equal Opportunities has demanded stringent measures to tame foreign investors who are competing with Ugandans in petty trade.
While referring to the petty foreign investors as aliens, the MPs in their report noted that the proliferation of aliens into petty and retail trade in Uganda today is a threat to the economic space and livelihoods of citizens.
The committee report that was tabled before Parliament last week has recommended stringent measures to curb the influx of petty investors in the trade.
Among the measures recommended by the committee report include; resourcing and bolstering the capacity of the Directorate of Citizenship and immigration Control, increasing synergies and interoperability between and among the various stakeholders involved in issuance of work permits, licensing of businesses and security surveillance.
“The Executive should also strengthen the Local Council system especially Local Councils 1 and 2 to aid in the post-entry monitoring of aliens in the vicinity of their local communities,” the report reads.
On the 2nd August 2016, the Equal Opportunities Committee commenced an inquiry into the management of aliens in Uganda and the ramifications of the influx of immigrants and their continued engagement in petty trade on the economic space of Ugandans.
The MPs want Investment Code Act amended to bar foreign investors to engage in retail business.
Section 13 (1) Investment Code Act, provides that an investor may engage in any type of business enterprise.
Furthermore, Section 10(5) states that foreign investor who is intending to engage in trade only shall not be required to comply with subsection (1) but shall incorporate a company with the Registrar General as is required by law; and deposit a sum of $100,000 at the Bank of Uganda, which shall be specifically used for importation or direct purchase of goods for the business. MPs now want this deposit increased to $200,000.
“The Committee recommends that the Minister of Trade immediately considers amending the Investment Code Act be amended to inter-alia double the said deposit from US$100,000 to US$200,000 to strengthen commitment by prospective foreign investors to the objectives of their Incenses and reform the conditions governing its use by the investor,” the report says.
President Yoweri Museveni last year was quoted saying that retailing should be left for local Ugandans while foreign investors specialize in manufacturing and construction among others.
"It is not correct for the regulators not to take action against the Chinese and Indian retailers who unfairly compete against our retailers. Those foreigners should not operate at that terminal level. They should be redirected to manufacturing in particular and other areas like construction. Retailing should be preserved for the Ugandans or, possibly, the other African immigrants as well,” Museveni said.
During the presentation of the report to Parliament by committee chairperson Annet Nyakecho, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga differed the matters arising from the report to this week in the presence of Ministers of Internal Affairs, Trade and Gender.