Citing discrepancy between the public and private sector, leaders from the private sector have expressed worries about Uganda’s business strength in the East African Community and the high lending rates by conventional banks.

The fears were raised during an open day held on November 30, 2016 by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) with the sole aim of discussing how the private sector can harness research in creating wealth and development in Uganda.

“Are member states serving common good,” Allan Ssenyondwa the in charge policy and internship placement at Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) asked before stating that some Ugandan companies cannot export to Rwanda.

Ssenyondwa also decried Uganda’s inability to reap from foreign market opportunities such as the AGOA deal in which Uganda could freely export textiles to the US market. “We were given an opportunity to export textile, 95 percent is captured by Kenya and 5 percent is shared by other EAC states,” He said. Ssenyondwa attributes this imbalance to Kenya’s quick research and analysis onto the US textile market.

Ezra Rubanda, the head of policy, research and advocacy at the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry called for more research into what Uganda can produce and export. “We need to think of what we are bringing into the table, what we are going to sell, how best we can manipulate the different factors of production to achieve a given level of productivity,” he stated.

Regarding interest rates Rubanda urged government to look into the wider spectrum of business financing including rescheduling the prevailing interest regime because other economies are offering far much cheaper interest rates.

He said, “the process of coming up with regulation is taking the whole lifetime, it is not coming, so we are questioning the central bank, what is happening, we expect them as usual to serve us diligently but we are becoming impatient.”

“We want to bring it to every stakeholder that it is known the Islamic financing will be an alternative source of financing and most likely cheaper than the conventional banking that is available,” Rubanda cagily specified after warning that Bank of Uganda was jeopardizing the Islamic financing in Uganda.

Dr. Sarah Ssewanyana, the Executive Director EPRC noted that some of the roles that used to be solely performed by the public sector are now being shared or even performed exclusively by the private sector.

“In ICT, private sector is leader in creation and transfer of technology and innovations. There is also a huge presence of private sector in Merchandize trade,” Ssewanyana said adding that 39 percent of the current National Development Plan (NDP II) is expected to be funded the private sector.

She however warned that this is only possible if the private sector is able to compete better both within and outside the country.

Dr. Ibrahim Kasirye, the Principle Research Fellow EPRC presented the Centre’s famous previous research outputs for and with the private sector. These include;

1. Floating Fish Cage Farming a Solution to Uganda's Declining Fishery Stocks
2. Socio-Economic Effects of Gambling on Welfare: Evidence from Kampala City
3. The Uganda Business Climate Index reviews and other EPRC products

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