12 November 2012

Uganda: UIA to Audit Trade Licenses of Foreign Investors

Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) is to conduct an audit of all foreign investments in the country to find out if they have diverted from the businesses for which they were licensed.

According to the Executive Director of UIA, Frank Sebowa, the inspection is aimed at unearthing and getting rid of foreign investors who have turned to running petty businesses instead of that licensed by the Government.

For a foreigner to acquire a business license in Uganda, they must have a minimum investment capital of US$100,000 (about sh250m).

However, lately it appears that many foreigners are increasingly venturing into petty businesses such as kiosks and grocery stalls in Kampala and other urban centers around the country under the guise of 'foreign investment'.

"We do auditing of all foreign investments in the country every after three years but this year it will be more vigorous," Sebowa warned.

Addressing the press at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Friday, Sebowa said the licenses of all foreign investors found undertaking petty business in the country will be revoked immediately.

The move follows an order by the State Minister for Investment, Gabriel Ajedra Aridru, that the Authority conducts a thorough review of all foreign firms in the country in light of eliminating those that have disregarded their trade licenses.

"There is a massive outcry from small-scale local business people that the foreign investors have taken over their businesses which are largely their source of livelihood. If it's true, then it must be halted," Aridru said.

The minister made the comments at a workshop to announce the tentative programme for the forthcoming Ugandan business mission to Italy.

The mission is aimed at marketing Uganda's business and investment potential to Italian investors.

During the visit, the participants will hold business to business meetings with potential Italian investors.

The participants will also visit industries and business incubation centers of their choice in Italy.

The over 300-man delegation will be led by the Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi. The mission is slated for December 2-7, 2012.

The delegation will comprise of officials from UIA, Office of the Prime Minister, Finance and Trade ministries and representatives from the Private Sector.

While Government will foot the travel, feeding and accommodation bills of travelling officials, those from the Private Sector are expected to foot their own bills.

The Italian ambassador to Uganda, Stefan Dejak, urged Ugandan entrepreneurs to exploit the mission to market their business ideas and projects to their Italian counter parts.

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