The Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry has recommended that the Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) should not be funded in the next financial year due to the absence of a governing board.
This recommendation was contained in a report from the committee presented by its chairperson, Hon. Mwine Mpaka on Tuesday, 19 April 2022.
Mpaka said the UEPB has been operating without a board for three years.
The committee recommended that the Board be constituted with immediate effect or seek disbandment or merger to avoid unnecessary government expenditure.
“Considering the functions of the board, the existence of the Board as a governing body is paramount and all the processes carried out with the aim of seeking approval of budget estimates by Parliament are rendered nugatory since they bear no legal thrust,” said Mwine Mpaka.
He added: ”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.”
Speaker, Anita Among, however, said that the committee should have notified Parliament of the absence of a board since committees are mandated to carry out oversight of government entities and agencies.
“We do not want to cripple operations of these institutions; we will give them money on 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.
The Minister of State for Industry, David Bahati, said that government will appoint a board before the start of the next financial year.
“The appointment of the board is already in Cabinet. There are just a few queries which we are answering and by the end of June, we shall have a board in place,” he said.
The Minister of State for Trade Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon. Martin Magarra, said that the ministry still needs support since it is one of the key sources of government revenue.
“Before Covid, it was bringing in about Shs1.6 billion and employing a huge number of Ugandans. We need to get back on our feet and bring in the same amount of revenue and employ more,” Magarra said.
Tororo North County MP, Hon. Geofrey Ekanya, said that if Government does not strengthen the Export Promotion Board, the government risks losing external sources of revenue.
“I want to request the Premier to commit more funding so that we can build a warehouse in Goma where we are building a road and have our army so that we can promote our exports. The same should be done in Somalia and South Africa. The budget that has been provided for is not adequate,” Ekanya said.
The proposed budget allocation for the Board for 2022/2023 financial year is Shs6.4 billion.