By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: Traders under the Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) have petitioned the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, on the high costs of doing business and tasked the government to stop the selective giving of tax waivers.
Traders under KACITA led by their Chairperson, Thadeus Musoke, said that following the COVID-19 pandemic, several of their members lost property to banks due to unpaid loans and are struggling to get back to business.
“Our loans accumulated, we tried to engage different government agencies and the banks but what was designed to help us was not effective enough because currently banks are auctioning buildings and property and the business communities cannot access top-ups,” Musoke said during the meeting held at Parliament Building on Tuesday, 27 September 2022.
Musoke also said that during an earlier meeting with the President, they requested the designing of a special fund to support traders to market Ugandan products through the “Build and Buy Uganda” programme, a request that has not been implemented to date.
The traders prayed that Parliament prevails over the Central Bank, which sets a high Central Bank Rate (CBR) used to implement or signal its monetary policy stance leading to high-interest rates.
They also called for a fair tax regime arguing that traders have been affected by the new tax policy that pushed the import duty tax on garments from 25 to 35 per cent or US$ 3.5 per kilogram. Musoke said the high costs of doing business are also affecting their business as traders.
The Association also proposed that government should stop giving out tax exemptions that only benefit a few business persons, but instead introduce non-tax incentives like subsidies on utilities and expanding the transport sector to ensure a conducive environment.
Responding to the petition, the Deputy Speaker, Tayebwa, hailed KACITA for choosing dialogue over protests, which are not productive.
He urged KACITA to self-regulate to ensure that they produce standard products for both local use and export.
He also appealed to the traders to export more, stating that focusing on imports puts a lot of pressure on the Ugandan economy and currency.
Later, during the plenary sitting, the Deputy Speaker, referred the petition to the committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry to scrutinize the concerns of members and report back to the House.