Stakeholders in the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have asked the Government to reduce on the cost is machinery as part of the ways to promote competitiveness among the local industries.
Different players within the sector claim the cost of importing machinery is still high which leaves many out of business.
“We import machinery at a high cost. That is why SMEs are still using locally made machines from our local artisans which affects the level and quality of production,” Justine Mukazungu, the Managing Director, Stima Foods said.
She called on Government to put incentives for SMEs like they do in other sectors like tourism to promote growth of local industries to effect competiveness.
Mukazungu raised the concern while addressing journalists on the challenges of SMEs at the SEATINI offices in Bukoto Kampala.
Today, the Government is to holding a the 9th annual trade sector performance review.
The managing director, Agripoint Initiatives Limited, Humphrey Mutaasa stressed that SMEs promote employment and value addition to agriculture products, saying the sector needs to be given priority.
He emphasized the need to rebrand of the country and establish a strong policy to increase locally made product on all market outlets like the supermarkets.
“We need to have increase in the percentage of locally made products on the shelves of supermarkets. Today the very things we manufacture here are still imported from outside countries and are sold cheaply thus out competing our products. We should ‘Buy Uganda, Brand Uganda and Build Uganda’ through easing operationalization of the SMEs” he explained.
He noted that protectionism of SMEs remains a problem which puts many people’s investment at a high risk when they let in foreign products flood every corner of the country.
The SEATINI Programme Officer, Trade Policies and Negotiations, Africa Kiiza said there is still a high import taxes (at 30% import duty) on the right primary packaging materials for locally produced good which continues to compromise the product quality.
Other challenges include; high electricity cost, poor post-harvest handling which affects quality and competition from cheap imports on local market among others.