Government, URSB discuss options for supporting COVID-19 affected business through insolvency

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Kampala, 27th April; Businesses especially the Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are facing financial distress arising from the unprecedented and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While business conditions are expected to improve for some industries, it is unlikely they will return to pre-pandemic levels in the near future. Financially distressed companies may thus face potential insolvency.

To support ailing entities while offering them rescue options and legal mechanisms to deal to with their dilemma, the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) and Government of Uganda organized a joint two-day conference under the theme; Insolvency & Intellectual Property Rights in the face of COVID-19. The conference which kicked off in Kampala on April 26th also celebrated the World Intellectual Property (IP) Day that highlighted creativity in IP, also discussed proposed suggestions to help viable businesses survive during this difficult time.

Speaking at the conference, 2nd Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Moses Ali who represented the Prime Minister as Chief Guest said several measures are being considered by Government to support collapsing businesses in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. He pointed out that several rescue packages were being discussed in respect of COVID-19 defaults to save businesses from being closed prematurely. He expressed hope that the economy would revive soon on the back of picking up of demand and increased domestic and foreign investments. The Prime Minister commended URSB for having lived up to the expectations of the Government by being a dynamic and proactive insolvency regulator whose suggestions would be adopted.

The Minister of Justice & Constitutional Affairs on his part expressed optimism that SMEs had shown resilience even amidst the tough times through adaptability and innovation to remain relevant to the times. ‘The Government of Uganda has made efforts to put in place a conducive environment in which SMEs operate. Government has adopted insolvency and intellectual property laws to smoothen the business environment for SMEs. Uganda also recently adopted the National IP Policy 2019 that i urge you to embrace’ Hon. Professor Ephraim Kamuntu said.

Ambassador Francis Butagira, the URSB Board Chair added that the organization’s efforts had been directed towards saving struggling businesses affected by the COVID-19 impact. ‘Today we are focusing on insolvency practitioners who play a central role in advising and restructuring financially ailing enterprises’ he said

Mercy Kainobwisho, the Registrar General said URSB had strategically placed emphasis on SMEs since they form the bulk of businesses across the country and thus deserved attention. ‘Insolvency has become more visible this year with the effects of COVID-19 being felt by many businesses. I would like to emphasise that there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not too late to salvage the damage caused by the effects of the pandemic’ She asserted

The Insolvency and Intellectual Property conferences are platforms utilized by URSB annually to promote a stable insolvency practice, support innovation and creativity in Uganda. This year’s conference attracted a wide section of stakeholders who presented various thoughts and perspectives of practitioners, policy makers, subject experts, and academicians, to stimulate thought on how the multitude of SMEs can be rehabilitated to prosper through generating multiple competing resolution plans while supporting the country’s social economic growth.