KAMPALA: In the Financial Year 2022/2023, the Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) may not get any money from the government because it doesn’t have a governing body.
This was brought to the floor of Parliament by lawmakers on the Committee of Tourism, Trade and Industry, led by Mwine Mpaka Rwamirama, who doubles as the Mbarara City South lawmaker.
UEPB is a public trade support institution established to coordinate the development and promotion of Uganda’s exports. The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives is in charge of it. It is the national center for export promotion and development.
The proposed budget allocation for the Board is $6.4 billion for the 2022–2023 financial year. He said the board should not be paid because they haven’t had a governing body for three years now.
In light of the board’s functions, “the existence of the board as a governing body is important, and all the processes that are used to get the budget estimates approved by Parliament are irrelevant because they don’t have any legal weight.”
He added that, “It is a glaring fact that the budget estimates were not prepared in accordance with the law and did not go through the required approvals.” As such, the committee did not approve them, and Parliament should not appropriate funds in this regard.
The Tororo North County MP, Geoffrey Ekanya, also made it clear that if the government does not strengthen the Export Promotion Board, the country risks losing external sources of revenue.
David Bahati, the Minister of State for Industry, told the House that the government will appoint a board before the start of the next financial year, adding that the appointment of the board is already being discussed by Cabinet. “There are just a few queries, and by the end of June, we shall have a board in place,” said Bahati.
However, the committee said that the board should be set up right away or that it should be disbanded or merged to save money for the government.
It was decided by the Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among Annet, that the Board should be funded. She gave the Ministry until May to make sure that the new Board is set up and voted on.
We do not want to cripple the operations of these institutions; we will give them money on the condition that a board is put in place. Let us give the minister up to May to constitute the board as we continue with appropriation,” said Among.
Minister of State for Trade, Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities Martin Bahinduka Mugarra says that the tourism industry is a big source of money for the government, and that it employs over 500,000 Ugandans and brings in at least $1.6 billion a year, which is about 7% of GDP.