We exceeded our Non Tax Revenue target provided by Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development of sh38.6b by raising sh39.9b Ugx, compared to sh32.5b collected in FY 2016/17.
By Bemanya Twebaze
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT- Henry Ford stated it plain and simple; ‘If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you are right’.
This statement was one of our performance measures in planning our activities, setting our targets and sticking to them. We successfully concluded the Financial Year (FY) 2017/18 exceeding our expectations. We knew we could do it, we accepted the challenge and set towards accomplishing it, which am glad we did.
We were mindful from the onset of the financial year to switch from the norm of business as usual to business unusual. Self believe in ones abilities is very important in succeeding and is something we value at (Uganda Registration Services Bureau) URSB. Because anyway, you should be your own cheerleader before any one else.
February 01, 2018 marked one of our major milestones with the breaking of ground of the Uganda Business Facilitation Centre (UBFC) by the Prime Minister of Uganda Hon Ruhakana Rugunda. The building will house URSB, Capital Markets Authority, Uganda Investment Authority and other key government agencies. It will also host a One Stop Shop that will provide access of services of key government agencies by the business community and investors because of operating under one roof.
Construction of the office premises is ongoing and we are optimistic that in 18 months all work will be completed. This will eliminate the burden of rent that we have for a long time shouldered and free Government funding on the same for more pressing issues.
The world is evolving at a very fast pace, and service delivery is shifting from manual applications to technology driven innovations. The private sector has for long led in product/service innovations, Government agencies are not being left behind in this development.
We have witnessed development of ICT driven products from Uganda Revenue Authority in the payment of tax returns, motor vehicle registration etc, Social security updates sent on a monthly basis from National Social Security Fund and many other examples. URSB intentionally set out to be a change maker in delivery of services. One of our latest ICT interventions to improve on client interaction was the introduction of an SMS notification platform.
Clients are notified after submission on the status of their applications which avoids repeated visits by the client following up on a particular submission. This is working very well so far based on the feedback we receive from our clients on a regular basis. Our teams are currently concluding the development of an online official bulletin/public notice board that will notify the public on any changes on a business entity within our custody for example if Directors of a company are changed, one can easily access the information online without having to visit any of our offices.
We exceeded our Non Tax Revenue target provided by Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development of sh38.6b by raising sh39.9b Ugx, compared to sh32.5b collected in FY 2016/17. This was achievable because of the massive sensitization we carried out to ensure we reach all areas of the country and explain about our services and the immense support from all our stakeholders.
We carried out over 30 business clinics in all regions of the country, driving our Mobile Van to different districts and pitching camp for close to a week before moving to the next district. This arrangement enabled us access many people in the hard to reach areas and helped with formalization of their businesses as well as registration of customary marriages. 23% of our Non Tax Revenue are attributed to the regional engagements/mobile clinics. Most importantly, we were able to offer our services in these areas.
In most of our awareness campaigns, we emphasized the untapped potential of Intellectual Property with people continuing to ignore the monetary gain they can acquire out of the protection of their innovations and works of different kinds. Steadily, we witnessed an interest by the public on the benefits of registering trademarks, utility models and copyright as well.
This could explain the increase in utility model certificates granted. We received thirteen applications and granted certificates to eleven utility models which we consider a first in many years. Locally this is proof that Ugandans are innovative and are looking at local solutions. Seventy one (71) applications for industrial designs were received compared to the previous year where none was filed.
This emphasises the opportunities available for exploitation of intellectual property for the benefit of business enhancement. One thousand and eight two (1082) local trademarks were registered which is testimony of the benefits of branding a business to distinguish it from other similar businesses in the market. In the area of business registration, there was a 78.09% increase in businesses registered from 30, 550 in FY 2016/17 to 54, 408 in FY 2017/18. Several local companies have understood and appreciated the need to stand out in quality and product/service delivery and thus register their marks to protect them from infringement. We will continue to encourage our clients to explore the immense opportunities in intellectual property registration.
We have grown our stakeholder engagements and branched into business management skills, marketing and sales skills, availability of credit facilities and personal financial management training, of youth and women with the aim of empowering young people with knowledge to make wise financial/business decisions. Over 2000 youth were trained in the districts of Mbarara, Gulu, Mbale and Masaka.
Many testified about not being not formally schooled but interested in knowing how to manage their business, keep proper books of account and also be able to attract clients to their businesses. Two day trainings were held in each of the districts mentioned and we shall promise to train even more youth in this financial year because knowledge is power and enables in decision making.
Together with our partners under the Taxpayer Expansion Program (TREP such as Uganda Revenue Authority, Kampala Capital City Authority and the Ministry of Local Government, we have demonstrated how we can benefit from collaborative endeavors by creating and co creating values. This should always be the focus.
I cannot thank my team enough for sharing one vision and ensuring together we all succeed. For us at URSB, the sky is not our destination, we shall leave our footprints and continue to explore innovations in service delivery and help in demystifying bureaucracy attached to government bodies.
The writer is the Registrar General and Executive Director of the Uganda Registration Services Bureau