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Friday, June 2, 2023

Museveni Challenges Traders to Diversify into Exports and Import Substitution

Serena hotel Kampala: Kampala City Traders have respondedpositively to President Yoweri Museveni’s call to re-open their shops that theyhad closed for 3 straight days over their complaints of excess commercial bankinterest rates on loans.

The President was this afternoon addressing Kampala CityTraders Association members at the Serena Conference Centre in Kampala after hetravelled back from the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi where heopened a 10-day NRM MPs’ Caucus Retreat yesterday.

The President also challenged traders to diversify intoexports and imports substitutions as a way forward to ensure progress.

He said that it is not sufficient to entirely rely on importtrade. He attributed the prevailing inflation to the international demand forvarious commodities such as oil, steel and cement. He noted that the demand forvarious commodities has risen. He noted that the Europeans, Americans andJapanese were the only ones enjoying a good standard of living but added thattoday, many more other countries, including the Chinese, Indians, Braziliansand Africans have a better standard of living and they end using more of theseproducts particularly steel. He was happy to note that Uganda stands to benefitbecause of increased demand of raw materials, such as oil, iron ore and copper,which it has in plenty. He called on the traders to utilize the opportunity ofincreased demand for our products for their benefit.

One major complaint by the traders is being charged excessinterest rates over the old bank loans. President Museveni asked the Governorof the Bank of Uganda to look into the possible solutions to this complaint. Healso asked the Governor to look into another complaint of excessive bankcharges being levied by various commercial banks.

The President suggested that cash flow should be tied withthe repayment schedules saying that the banks could arrange to have longerperiods of re-payment if necessary.

President condemned people who are engaged in strikes notingthat this hampers the in-flow of foreign exchange from the tourism sector. Henoted that when the people of Uganda work more on exports, they gain more. He,therefore, encouraged KACITA members to engage more in the export sector.

President Museveni said that Uganda is currently producing585 Mega Watts of electricity as compared to 60 Mega Watts in 1986 when NRMtook power. He said that electricity has been expensive part of the quantitygenerated is from the thermal source. He said that currently a unit ofelectricity costs Shs. 800 out of which the domestic consumer pays Shs.385 perunit adding that the government has been subsidizing the consumer to the tuneof Shs.415 over the last 6 years.

The Patron of KACITA Mr. Godfrey Kirumira saluted PresidentMuseveni for his efforts to solve the challenges of high commercial bankinterest rates while the Chairman of the traders organization, Mr. EverestKayondo noted that the issue of commercial banks increasing interest rates onthe old loans, suffocates the business community. He also saluted the Presidentfor meeting them for the 3rd time in 4 days.

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