We need to pay special attention to Small Companies – Bitature.

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Our Reporter.

Business Mogul, also chairman Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU), Patrick Bitature has challenged both government and private stakeholders to handle small companies and informal traders with the same zeal and effort they use for big formal traders.

Bitature made these remarks during his keynote address at the 10th Trade Sector Performance review held at Hotel Africana on 16th October, organized by the ministry of trade, industries and co-operatives.

“I salute the government of Uganda and its partners for their efforts and commitments. There is indeed steady progress. Those who can’t see this progress need special prayers. While big businesses are championing growth and industrialization, we also need to pay special attention to the small companies that are doing business and creating more jobs for our people,” Bitature said, adding;

“There are so many life and business lessons that come from the informal sector. Many of these are not taught in our schools and the universities. We need to focus on the informal sector.”

Bitature further challenged government to prioritize the revival of Uganda’s railway system, noting that the absence of train eat in to the profits of traders through very heavy transport costs in addition to putting undue pressure to the country’s roads network.

“I am happy that most of our trade roads have been worked on but we need a train system. Without a functional rail system, we are going to be/remain handicapped,” Bitature noted.

Ministry of Trade Performance Summarized.

The total approved budget of the sector for the Financial Year 2018/19 was UGX 161.74 billion including external funding, representing 0.5% of the total National Budget allocation.

The sector budget comprised of recurrent budget amounting to UGX 83.4 billion of which UGX 10.075 billion was wage and 73.328 was non-wage and UGX 50.661 billion was capital/development budget. In addition the sector had budgeted for Appropriation in Aid (AIA) of UGX 27.679 billion.

During the period under review, total merchandise exports increased from US$3.53665 billion in 2017/18 to US$3.96172 billion in 2018/19 resulting to a growth rate of 12 per cent and total merchandise imports increased from US$5.61918 billion in 2017/18 to US$6.78343 billion in 2018/19, a growth rate of 21 per cent.

The trade deficit widened from US$2.08252 billion in 2017/18 to US$2.82171 billion in 2018/19 hence a growth rate of 35 per cent. Widening trade deficit is on account fast growing imports, mainly of petroleum products, machinery, vehicles, Vegetable Products, Animal, Beverages, Fats & Oil; and chemical and related products.

The major export destinations for 2018/19 were; COMESA: 44.8% of total exports (worth US$1.77336 billion), but declined from 58.8% in 2017/18 (US$2.207869 billion); and of which 13.3% are exports to Kenya; Middle East: 26.5% of total exports – essentially driven by gold exports to the United Arab Emirates. Previous financial year market share for the Middle East was 11.8%; European Union: 12.7% of total exports (worth US$503.96 million) and Tanzania: 2.1%.

The major sources of imports in 2018/19 were; Asia: 40.1% of total imports; of which 12.5% is from India and 15.6% from China; Middle East: 16.5%,  COMESA: 14.1%; of which 10.6% is from Kenya,) European Union: 9.7% and  Rest of Africa: 11.9%; of which 4.7% is from the United Republic of Tanzania.

“In line with the theme for this year’s sector review, sustainable industrialisation will go a long way in creating jobs and improve exports growth as exportation of Uganda’s manufactured goods increase,” Hon Amelia Kyambadde, the Cabinet Minister for Trade, Industries and co-operatives said, adding;

“I thank our development partners for the support offered to the Ministry. I commend TradeMark East Africa, the European Union, the Swedish International Development Agency, Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), USAID, and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) among others for the support we have received.”

During the 2018/19 financial year, the Industry sector grew by 5.8% in FY 2018/19, a slight slowdown from 6.1% FY 2017/18. A marginal slowdown was experienced in construction activities as well as mining and quarrying. Construction grew by 6.7% in FY 2018/19, slightly lower than growth of 6.9% registered the previous FY. Despite this slowdown, growth in the industry sector has strongly rebounded from 3.4% registered in FY 2016/17, because of increase in both public and private investments.

On the other hand, manufacturing performed well growing at 2.8% in FY 2018/19 compared to 1.7 % in the previous FY because of newly commissioned factories, which have increased industrial activity especially in food processing, production of cement, iron and steel. The Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) acquired a 32% stake in Atiak Sugar Factory, which will serve as a nucleus facility for an out-grower scheme in Atiak and Lamwo.