President Museveni has asked the Indian community in Uganda to invest in value addition as a move to promote the country’s export earnings.
“What you place in the economic development only lack value addition. You started factories to process and add value to our milk and this has laid us a foundation for exporting it. I want Indian businesses to cover other areas which are not covered,” President Museveni said.
If the Indian business community takes up the initiative, the President said the investments would increase the numbers of the already covered items including tea, soap, cooking oil and milk.
Mr Museveni made the remarks at the Diwali dinner held at State House Entebbe where he hosted the Indian Association members over the weekend.
While commending the Indian community for supplementing on the government policy on trade thereby contributing to the development of the economy, the President also asked them to take advantage of abundant raw materials the country is endowed with.
“We have the potential for providing raw materials. If you see an opportunity, take it up. We have handled infrastructures and we are going to make electricity prices go down to reduce on the cost of production,” Mr Museveni said.
About a land dispute involving theft of a title belonging to the Indian Women Association risking their land in upscale Nakasero area, Mr Museveni promised to intervene until the matter is resolved.
“In Africa, when you steal a woman’s property, you cannot survive. Even the thieves who stole the land title will not survive because I will deal with them,” he added.
The Indian community has asked the government to recognise them as a tribe for them to have a sense of belonging in Uganda to ease their business activities in the country.
Mr Patel Sanjiv, a leader in the Indian Association, argued that if the tribe is approved by Parliament, this would help to identify them with the society in Uganda.
“Children are born, raised and study from here (in Uganda) but when they reach eighteen years, they become foreigners. When we ask for national identity cards, passports and birth certificates, we are required to reveal our tribes which is a difficult question to respond to,” Mr Sanjiv said.
Mr Katongole Singh, the chairperson of the Sikh community in Uganda, appealed to the government to recognise their turbans as an official attire to ease their identification and movement while travelling in and out of the country.
Statistics show that Uganda’s export performance for 2016 improved compared to the previous calendar year.
Goods exports grew by 10.3 per cent from $2.66 billion (Shs9.5 trillion) in 2015 to $2.94 billion (Shs10.4 trillion) in 2016.
Bank of Uganda director research Adam Mugume, said: “Excluding gold, value of exports declined by 1.1 per cent.”
While informal exports also slightly grew by 0.2 per cent from $399.1 million in 2015 to $399.7 million in 2016.
Imports on the other hand posted a 14.8 per cent decline from $4.95 billion in 2015 to $4.22 billion in 2016.