In a bid to share indicators of the business environment, constraints and get feedback regarding business viability in Uganda, the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) disseminated the Business Climate Index (BCI) findings to the district officials drawn from Western and Central Uganda.

The Western regional meeting was convened on 30th May 2017 at Kalya Courts Hotel, Fort Portal town attracting business owners, district commercial officials and political leaders from Mbarara, Masindi, Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kanungu, Kyenjojo and Kabarole districts, as well as a URA official.

Paul Corti Lakuma, a Research Analyst with EPRC who presented the summery of BCI findings noted that over the past five years, the momentum gained in the business environment remains vulnerable to domestic, regional and global shocks thus making businesses operate below potential.

He said that profitability was subdued due to high costs of starting business and high power tariffs. Other constraints to business for the period spanning from 2012 to 2016 included; macro economic factors, inadequate electricity; unfair competition, and substandard products (See graphical summery)

 Constraints to business

He also mentioned that turn over of stock was largely upbeat in the last four quarters with low demand and little export (7.3 percent) for Agric products leading to poor profitability.

Lakuma however noted that business growth and profitability optimism remains high among most citizens, and if government holistically addresses the prevailing bottlenecks, the business climate could change for the better.

Officiating at the meeting, Rurabuhinga Richard, the Kabarole District Chairperson decried the fact that foreign investors get tax holidays whereas their local counterparts miss out on such incentives. “They get 5-7 years tax holiday and after, change names to get more exemptions at the expense of the local investor,” he said.

He added that some foreigners come as investors and start vending on the streets. Rurabuhinga called for further business research to inform policy and create a business climate that favors local investors.

The Western region participants urged government to provide support to local businesses in form of subsidies and tax exceptions as well as access to regional markets.

The central region dissemination workshop drew participants from the district of Masaka, Mpigi, Nakasongola, Kayunga, Wakiso, and Kampala and was held at the EPRC conference hall on 1st June 2017.

Participants emphasized high electricity tariffs, land tenure issues and the several tax regimes as key constraints to doing business. They recommended the rebundling of the electricity agencies to improve power delivery and expedition of land policy reforms.

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