Guloba 2Dr.Madina Guloba(centre)at the Private sector forum

 

Dr.Madina Guloba, a research fellow at Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) contends that the private sector can be harnessed to contribute to sustainable economic growth if government deliberately promotes the policy of “local content” for investments akin to Buy Uganda, Build Uganda (BUBU)

Speaking as a panelist at the Uganda Private sector forum supported by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) at Mestil Hotel, Kampala on September 20, 2019, and Dr. Guloba argued that the private sector competitiveness must be enhanced through addressing challenges of poor infrastructure hindering market access and prohibitive commercial borrowing rates.

Under the theme “Revisiting the unemployment question through a private sector lens, ”Guloba argued that very few domestic  private sector firms would thrive on their own without public sector support and protection. That is why we need a bold kind of BUBU to catalyze sustainable domestic investments. She says this requires deliberate investment in Research and Development as well as digitization of the business transactions to match the global trends.

The researcher was responding to a question from a participant on why some businesses thrive while others collapse under the same business environment .Guloba observed that government needs to implement game changing interventions like agro-industrialization through value addition  to accelerate the contribution of agriculture sector to the economic growth. She also noted that some of the indicators of inclusive growth include improved infrastructure of business corridors and equitable implementation of social livelihood programmes

Dr.Guloba held that a robust private sector would promote decent employment for the youth who should also be equipped with requisite skills in a competitive environment. It is important to understand value chains for which skills are requires including negotiation and certification.

A Member of Parliament for Ntungamo Municipality, Mr. Gerald Karuhanga backed Dr.Guloba on local content for investment opportunities. He stressed that Ugandan investors and entrepreneurs deserve an affirmative action to benefit from government tenders, contracts and supplies. He said for instance 80 % of the borrowed money goes into infrastructure but contracts are given to aliens who repatriate the proceeds to their respective countries. He said that the few contracts given to Ugandans are for digging trenches and street lighting.

Gulu municipality MP,Mr. Leando Komakech said the challenge facing private sector development are structural and we need a debate on the structure of our economy to catalyze development. For instance why should it be Bank of Uganda to administer the Agriculture Credit facility and not an agriculture bank? he asked .He also wondered how Uganda Development Bank whose lending interest rate is not less than 10%,expected to uplift private entrepreneurs?

Earlier, Mr. Ronald Kaggwa, the manager production, trade, tourism and investment at the National Planning Authority (NPA) made highlights about challenges and success stories towards creation of an enabling environment to spur private sector growth. He said objective number 4 of the National Development Plan 3 is strengthening the private sector for inclusive growth. He however cited many challenges facing domestic private enterprises such as informality, low technology levels, lack of skills, counterfeit products in circulation, high cost of doing business, lack of skilled labor high cost of energy and transport and high cost of internet

He argued however, that that the country has enjoyed a macroeconomic stability for a long time with   single digit inflation rate, formalizing of businesses get easy with facilitated registration procedures in one stop centres, increased uptake of technology like digitizing businesses citing examples of Uber transport and emergency of the green economy via climate change mitigation such as recycling industries from waste to wealth.

A member of German parliament who is also the head of Parliamentary committee on Economics and energy, Mr.Andreas Lammel made a key note address to the forum on German perspectives on development and growth through private sector involvement.

End   

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