Tuesday January 21 2014

Arrest, deport illegal investors

More than 35 suspected illegal immigrants were arrested by police on the streets of Kampala last week.

As we reported yesterday, some of those arrested were selling shoes and mobile phones yet they either did not have travel documents or their work permits had expired.

Another recent operation in Mayuge District yielded 17 arrests of foreigners working in the country illegally.

President Museveni has in the past encouraged foreign investors to set up serious businesses in Uganda, stressing that he is tired of “brief case” investors, especially those who engage in petty trade, something that should be a preserve of the citizens and not foreigners.

And the law is clear. It is unacceptable for foreigners to engage in any petty trade and more so without legal clearance for it is punishable by among others deportation.

Late last year, the ministry of Trade passed a directive, warning foreigners not to involve in petty trade. The ministry promised to deport any such trader involved in small-scale trade.

Most of those involved, however, claim that too much bureaucracy and deep-rooted corruption have frustrated their efforts in high-worth investments, let alone legalising their stay in the country.

Although they have a point, the truth remains that they must do the right kind of business deserved of a foreign investor and follow the right procedures to establish business entities in Uganda.

For a foreigner to do business here, according to the Investment code Act, he/she or the organisation should deposit $100,000 (about Shs250m) or an equivalent to the Bank of Uganda before any proceedings are done. This is a guarantee that the foreigner is a serious investor and also demonstrates that he/she/entity has the desire and capacity to invest in this country.

The Uganda traders, particularly under their umbrella association of Kampala City Traders Association, have time and again protested against foreigners doing petty trade, saying its members are already involved in it.

The government should crack the whip harder and arrest any so-called foreign investors that do not posses the required capital to start business.