By Patrick Jaramogi
Government has come under attack for not promoting the Build Uganda Buy Uganda (BUBU) concept initiated by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda.
Members of Parliament and the civil society organisations have described lack of government support towards enhancing the purchase of locally produced goods as a ‘detriment’ to economic growth.
“It hurts to note that most of the chicken consumed in Uganda’s leading hotels is imported yet we have chicken in Uganda,” said Vincent Bamulanzeki Sempijja (Kalungu East).
He wondered how locally produced goods would get market in the region when government officials were busy promoting imported stuffs.
“We shall not allow locally produced stuff to be suffocated by imports. Why should for-instance juice producers import pulp from abroad when we have fresh fruits in Uganda?,” asked Sempijja.
Grace Byarugaba (Isingiro Woman) urged government to put more funds and efforts at promoting the locally produced goods. “Why should we have food imported from abroad to feed experts at the graben area?” she mused.
The legislators were reacting to remarks made by Cyprian Batala the Assistant Commissioner External Trade Ministry of Trade and Cooperatives that Ugandans were losing out because they can’t produce quality products.
“Ugandans have failed to meet the required demands in terms of quality and quantity. All chicken supplied to Serena failed to meet the specifications in terms of weight prompting (Serena) to import from Brazil,” said Batala at a Trade liberalization Symposium organized by the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiation Institute (SEATINI) held at the Lake Victoria Hotel Entebbe last week.
Batala also pointed out that Ugandans; had failed to supply catering services to the Graben staff in the Oil fields due to supply side constraints.
“Did you know that it is the Portuguese speaking Angolans who are doing the catering services at the Graben and they import chicken from Brazil because Ugandans failed to supply?” asked Batala.
He said unlike Brazil chicken that is well fed and weighs more in just six weeks, the Ugandan chicken that takes six months doesn’t meet the weight specifications required in most hotels.
Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) as the apex body for the Private Sector over the years has noted a steady increase in imports over the locally manufactured goods and services. This trend of preferences has created a reduction in industry capacity utilization by 60% causing unemployment and reduction in turn over and profits.
The Proudly Ugandan Campaign aims to ensure that Ugandans commit to local products by increasing demand for local goods and services, to help ensure that existing jobs are kept and new jobs are created.
PSFU consequently initiated run campaigns to promote locally manufactured products for two years; initially as “Buy Ugandan buy Quality” in 2007, and in 2009 the campaign was dubbed “Proudly Ugandan”, the trend was thereafter carried on to 2010.
But Stephen Birahwa Mukitale, the chairperson Parliamentary Committee on National Economy noted that BUBU was failing out. “Just like NAADS unless more efforts are initiated by government to support the Build Uganda, Buy Uganda, it is set to collapse,” he said.
Birahwa noted that government should put in place mechanisms of adding value to the locally produced products.
“We need markets, but the government reaps more when we add value. Government needs to help farmers add value to their products to meet the export standards,” he said.
He said it was wrong for poultry farmers to be blamed for producing underweight and poor quality chicken yet it was government that approved the bad feeds for the chicken.
Anthony Okello (Amolatar) said the initiative of Build Uganda Buy Uganda will succeed if the support to Small and Medium Scale (SMEs) industries is increased by government. “Local producers need credit capital to boost on quality. We must contain the pressure of competition in the region by enhancing production of quality products,” said Okello.
Jane Nalunga the SEATINI Uganda country director said a lot needs to be put towards enhancing quality standards.
George Walusimbi Mpanga, a trade expert said government needs to enhance sustainable production and quality of locally manufactured goods and services.
“Government needs to create visibility and raise awareness about the available quality local products and services and also to translate this into actual purchases of these goods and services,” said Mpanga.
Mpanga said more efforts should be geared towards encouraging product certification to facilitate product entry on the bigger market.
“Let us up our game on standards and ensure that our products are certified,” he said.