H.E Prime Minister meets Presidential Investor Roundtable (PIRT) Phase 6 Chairmen on the Mitigating Economic Response Framework for Investment during and Post COVID-19
This morning, Friday 22nd May 2020, the Rt. Hon Prime Minister of Uganda, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, had a zoom online meeting for the second time this week, with the Chairmen of the PIRT, together with representatives from the PSFU. The purpose for the meeting organized by the Office of the Prime Minister and Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), which is the Secretariat to the PIRT; was to have a meeting of minds between the investors and Government of Uganda on the required interventions in to the economy to support businesses to thrive during these uncertain pandemic times.
A number of interventions were discussed. Among these included:
Heavily impacted sectors like Agriculture (horticulture and floriculture), Tourism and the Transport / Logistics, have suffered demand and supply chain disruptions which will require:
- An increase of cargo flights to at least 3 days from the current very expensive 2 days. In normal circumstances horticultural produce needs to be exported daily in order not to compromise on quality
- Investment from the Government of Uganda to boost import substitution. Investments may take some time to recover and venturing into import substitution products may require support from Government
- Re-scheduling of loans
- Uganda should invest US$ 250 million in the marketing of Uganda’s tourism
- Increased liquidity for businesses through (a) with the re-capitalization of Uganda Development Bank, there should be an agricultural window to help farmers quickly (b) Ease the bureaucracy of the Agricultural Credit Facility
- Increase the marketing budget of Uganda’s exportable products to ensure increase in exports
- Streamline the national committee that deals with the treatment of exports out of Uganda
- In the short term hold discussions with Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Revenue Authority on the shifting of cargo from Mombasa to Naivasha, which may have cost implications and in the medium and long term improve the water and rail infrastructure
The Director Economic Affairs, Mr. Kaggwa, who represented the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, assured the private sector members that all the fiscal interventions areas had been considered by the Ministry and proposals submitted to Cabinet, which will sit next week to consider the proposals and announce Government’s position on the stimulus package for the recovery of the economy.
Dr. Twinemanzi, who represented Bank of Uganda, informed the meeting that all financial institutions had been the green light to restructure credit facilities with effect from April 2020 to March 2021 and could restructure a credit facility up to two times during the period. This is aimed at enabling businesses to stay afloat and stabilize after the pandemic disruptions. He said the Credit Relief Measures and Guidelines can be here found on the Bank of Uganda website
The Commissioner-General of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Mr. John Musinguzi, assured the members that URA was in constant communication with their counterparts in Kenya to resolve the issue of the shifting of cargo from Mombasa to Naivasha. He further requested the private sector to look more into the aspect of deferment of taxes rather than the exemption, as this would impact heavily of the revenues needed by the Government to develop the economy.
Mr. Lawrence Byensi, the Acting Director-General of UIA, thanked the Government of Uganda through the Prime Minister for the efforts and measures in place to contain the spread of the virus. He also thanked both the PIRT Chairmen and PSFU for the economic intervention proposals which he categorized into short, medium, and long term interventions. He reiterated UIA’s commitment to facilitate the implementation of the agreed proposals and informed the Prime Minister and members that UIA had just concluded a survey on investments to ascertain the impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown. The results would be shared with the members and submitted to the Ministry of Finance to further guide on intervention areas as outlined by the businesses.
In closing the meeting, the Rt. Hon Prime Minister emphasized that engagement will continue and tasked his office to ensure another meeting is organized to enable more direct interaction between the relevant ministries and the private sector. He encouraged the Private Sector to engage with the Minister of Finance between today and Monday to ensure that all their concerns were captured for deliberation in Cabinet.
The Office of the Prime Minister coordinates all Ministries’ service delivery and monitors the recommendations made by PIRT, assisted by UIA, the PIRT Secretariat. UIA continues to keep the private sector informed of all Government efforts at mitigating COVID-19 impacts on the business operating conditions in the country.