Last year Finance Minister Syda Bbumba announced a spate of tax relief measures for the agro-processing, hotel, education and the health sectors in a bid to jumpstart a slowing economy.
Notable among the initiatives was the injection of Shs1 billion into Uganda Investment Authority to help set up an SME department. At the same time, another ShsI.5 was allocated to Enterprise Uganda to help train the youth and impart them with entrepreneurial skills.
This year, in a budget themed: Strategic Priorities to Accelerate Growth, employment and Socio-Economic Transformation for Prosperity, the government has focused on promotion of science and technology application to enhance private enterprises’ technology capacity for greater employment creation.
According to Ms Bbumba, the government will continue to support Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) to expand its programmes in business incubation by establishing four multipurpose value addition centres across the country and expand its Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) outreach programme.
However, the allocation to Enterprise Uganda has been revised down from Shs1.5 billion to Shs1 billion for training purposes. An allocation of Shs1.207 billion has been provided to UIRI to set up a science unit. Makerere University will also receive an additional Shs5 billion for innovation in engineering, technology, research and development.
However, one of the notable allocations is the Shs2 billion funds for setting up a School Leavers Industrial Training programme. In pursuit of employment opportunities for the youth, the government is sourcing funding to enable the acquisition of small scale machinery and processing units for ‘Jua Kali’ businesses.
“A Shs4 billion Industrial Processing Venture Capital Fund will avail financing for bankable start-up ventures for university and college graduates with interest rates not exceeding 5 per cent per annum payable within eight years,” Ms Bbumba says.
Unfortunately, Uganda Investment Authority has not been allocated any money this financial year.