By Francis Emorut
The Business Licensing and Regulatory Reform Committee has blasted Parliament and the bureaucrats in government agencies for not passing tax reform laws and frustrating the implementation of business licensing reforms respectively.
“Why does it take Parliament 4-5 years without passing business laws in terms of accessing license and doing business in Uganda?” Gideon Balidawa asked.
“There is need to amend redundant laws and this hasn’t been done.” he stated.
He observed that lack of amendments of licensing laws was hampering the business community from transacting business in the country and non-harmonisation of trade regulations in East African Community.
The committee that was set up by the ministry of finance in March 2011 to spearhead compressive review of licensing laws and regulations found that the total compliance cost of business licenses amounts to sh725.7b representing 3.5% of gross domestic product
The finance minister, Maria Kiwanuka (Left) talks to the executive director of Private Sector Foundation Gideon Balidawa (Centre) and Dr. Peter Ngategezi (Right)during the closure of Uganda Investment Climate Program at Kampala Sheraton Hotel . PHOTO/ Francis Emorut
“We have people frustrating the implementation of business license and tax reforms. How can we get the civil servants to work on the implementation of the reforms?” he asked
Baliwada who is also the executive director of Private Sector Foundation accused the civil servants of dragging their feet by not communicating to the Committee on how far they have gone with implementation.
“We are talking of reforms passed by cabinet and chaired by His Excellence the President and nothing is happening.” Balidawa noted
“If we are to market Uganda in East Africa as one common business destination we have to style up,” he said.
Baliwada who represented the chairperson of the reform committee Gerald Ssendaula was speaking during the closure of Uganda Investment Climate program at Kampala Sheraton Hotel.
The program was funded by World Bank Group under the International Finance Corporation.
Some of the licenses the committee wants reviewed include Investment Code Act (3 licenses), Cooperative Societies Act (3licenses), Fish Act (1license) and Enguli Manufacturing and License Act (2licenses).
As for the laws Parliament should expedite are Hides and Skins(export duty) Amendment Bill 2014, Companies Act Amendment Bill 2014, Liquor (repeal) Bill 2014, Rivers Amendment Bill 2014, Produce and Protection Amendment Bill 2014 and Public Health (sale of milk and products) Amendment Rules 2014.
Dr. Peter Ngategize the coordinator of the program also expressed his disappoint with the civil servants and Parliament.
“We hope that the files (handled by civil servants) don’t get lost but referred to as far as business license tax reforms are concerned. Parliament should expedite amendments on tax reforms and regulations,” Ngategize said.
He observed that small medium enterprises are doing business at a higher cost because of so many licenses required and the business community is frustrated at large.
The finance minister Maria Kiwanuka assured the committee that government ministries will work in coordinated manner and ensure that reforms are implemented and Parliament performs its duty of amending the laws.
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