Local investors have asked government to consider tax waivers for them as a way of boosting their investments and creating more jobs.
The local entrepreneurs also have challenged what they termed as the continuous consideration of foreigners with incentives such as free land and tax holidays saying it is against the NRM’s tenet of pan-Africanism and puts the citizens at the periphery of the development agenda.
Richard Mataya, the proprietor of Abra Supermarket and Abra Bakery is one of the local entrepreneurs in Mbale, both of which employ over 200 people.
The 41-year entrepreneur said his dream is to expand and dominate the East African market, skill and employ youths and value addition but said this is curtailed by the exorbitant cost of startup capital amidst a hostile tax regime.
He says he parts with shs18 million in taxes monthly for his six-month-old bakery business and over shs150 million for the supermarket which includes 8ncome tax, VAT, withholding tax, local service tax and PAYE, etc.
“We have just invested in machinery construction and so on and immediately URA wants its tax, “Mataya said.
He noted that it is challenging to operate under stiff competition with already established companies some of which have tax holidays.
“We really need the government to give us a period of time so that we can also be able to retain some monies for getting other necessities and machinery that are needed to upgrade our place.”
According to Mataya, the cost of starting up a business is worsened by exorbitant interest on loans by commercial banks.
“For example, if I have borrowed shs500 million and I have to pay back shs700million. This is where we call upon government to see that they advance us fairer loans through Uganda Development Bank to enable us to thrive”.
Mbale City Traders Association vice chairperson, James Netalisire said, “Even if he has struggled to get land and put up machinery on his own, the government would be considerate by giving him a tax holiday. If we don’t support these young men and we put all our efforts on foreigners, how will Ugandans come up?”
Netalisire says it unfair for the government to continue pampering foreign investors with incentives such as free land and tax waivers at the expense of the local entrepreneur.
Although he appreciates the contribution of foreign investors, the Mbale City Traders Association (MCITA) vice chairperson has urged the government to strike a balance in the allocation of investment incentives to avoid suffocating native entrepreneurs at the expense of foreign investors who he believes are already better placed financially and technology-wise. “
Our government ought to know that even these foreign investors were made by their governments.”
Netalisire added that there is no government that develops its economy basing on only foreigners.
He urged government to assess the need to support local capacity before bringing in foreign investors to avoid undue suppression of the local industry.
“Like in the furniture industry, how do you bring Chinese and Indians instead of supporting Ugandans so that we get machinery and do the same?”