The National Competitiveness Forum (NCF): Creating an enabling environment for Enterprises in UgandaKathryn
On Thursday, 18th October 2018, private sector players were hosted for the 9th National Competitiveness Forum, at Mestil Hotel, Nsambya. The National Competitiveness Forum is an annual event organized by the Directorate of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance Planning & Economic Development (MoFPED).
The State Minister of Finance for Planning Hon. David Bahati officially opened the 9th National Competitiveness Forum stating that there’s evident growth in the economy.
Hon. Bahati informed participants that Uganda’s economy in the 2017-2018 financial year has grown and is at 6.1% (GDP) above the projected 5.7%. He attributed this to improved services like hotels and tourism, infrastructure and agriculture.
This forum enables the Ministry of Finance to engage with the Private sector, the civil society, academia and development partners on matters affecting the Business environment and the drivers of enterprise growth and competitiveness. This Forum also shapes policy interventions in the Country’s development agenda.
Mr. Allon Raiz, Chief Executive Officer –Raiz Corp. South Africa shared best practices in building competitive enterprises; and he made reference to his incubation facility emphasizing that you cannot create entrepreneurs in a weekend course, and that’s is exactly what so many of us are trying to do.
Prof. Waswa Balunywa, Principal – Makerere University Business School told participants that infrastructures will not help if there’s no produce to transport. He based his presentation on improvement in reforms of the education sector, calling for more attention to technical and vocational institutes at an early stage of a student’s growth.
He added that the science sector also needs to be revamped. Prof. Balunywa also cited the failure by Uganda to mine its own minerals due to lack of skilled scientists to do this. “We can’t even get our oil from the soil, we need to put emphasis on science” he said.
Dr. Elly Karuhanga vividly expressed that Uganda’s problem is that the country is run as a government not a business. He said a government is for politicians who cannot do business but rather tax people, and increase these taxes every year, until they force some companies into closure. Therefore inclusiveness is vital if the economy is to improve.
He added that while cabinet sits every Monday at State House, Entebbe, it has never invited private sector to advise them on how to run the economy, but that these politicians who have no knowledge about economics go ahead to make laws that are later passed by Parliament which is also full of politicians and no businessmen.
He further explained that there is too much fear in the country where corruption is at its peak. “When you approach a ministry employee about an issue, they fear to speak to you, they then refer you to the Permanent Secretary (PS). The PS will also fear and refer you to the minister. The Minister will refer you the Prime Minister (PM). The PM then refers you to the President, who in turn refers you to the people” Elly interestingly said.
Ms. Patricia Ojangole, Managing Director, Uganda Development Bank emphasized that entrepreneurs need to be more open to advice and guidance from recognized professionals offering Business Development Services.
Summary of key policy actions included;
- Need to harmonize service delivery mechanisms
- Address micro level issues to increase competitiveness
- Financing SMEs is critical
- Address challenges of infrastructure and energy
- Utilize existing frameworks, for instance the Presidential Investor Round Table
The one day forum attracted former ministers, members of the academia, representatives of World Bank, commercial banks, private sector among others.