Kampala — Uganda's effort to increase export volumes could be undermined after the Inspector General of Government (IGG) halted a recruitment exercise, citing hiccups in its process, Daily Monitor has learnt.
In December 2015, the Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) embarked on a recruitment exercise following a restructuring exercise.
However, the government watch-dog moved in and halted the process, citing unfairness in the exercise.
Some industrial watchers say the already struggling export sector could drop further because of this abrasion.
Records from Bank of Uganda (BoU) show that exported goods grew by 10.3 per cent from $2.66 billion (Shs9.5 trillion) in 2015 to $2.94 billion (Shs10.4 trillion) in 2016.
However, Dr Adam Mugume, BoU's director research, said excluding gold, the value of exports declined by 1.1 per cent.
It is nearly two years and the export promotion body is operating with only 16 employees instead of more than 50.
Out of the 16 employees, the institution only has five technical staff, including the chief executive officer, who are expected to promote the exports sector.
Mr Elly Twineyo, UEPB chief executive officer, said: "The IGG office has been sitting on the report for two years, yet we need to recruit more staff. They better give at least one statement and we recruit. We are getting impatient because nothing is moving."
He said the private sector is moving ahead and they are paying taxes but no service is delivered to them.
The irony is that the institution, for the last two financial years, has been getting a vote and they were given extra Shs3 billion budget to cater for salaries of the human resource but it is lying idle.
"We have got the money to cater for the human resource but it's not being put to use and the promotion of exports is stalling because of this issue," Mr Twineyo lamented.
When this newspaper contacted the IGG's office, Ms Munila Ali, the spokesperson of the government watchdog, said the report is not yet ready.
According to her, the report is far from being published. Besides, they have found out other system challenges at the exports board that they have to investigate, causing a delay.
"I am not sure how long the investigations will take but we are trying to expedite the process and once we are done, we shall publish the report," Ms Ali said.
When tasked to explain the other system anomalies discovered at the exports board, she declined to share the information, saying it was confidential until when they publish a report.
Nonetheless, the exports body has recorded some success in the five key main areas where it is mandated to facilitate the development, diversification, promotion and coordination of all export-related activities that lead to export growth.
Mr Twineyo said under their function of provision of trade and market information services, they have registered more than 180 exporting companies.
He added that they have seen more inquiries from both Ugandans and foreign buyers through various information tools established to ease communication.
'In the last one year, we have seen 17,716 online visitors on UEPB website seeking for exporter information and export statistics recorded on the UEPB website. These visitors were mainly from Uganda, USA, Russia, China, Great Britain, India, South Africa and Mauritius," Ms Twineyo shared.
As mandated to promote the development of exports through provision of hands-on technical advice in production, postharvest handling of exports, test marketing new commodities, the body has trained 2,411 farmers to produce sesame and chillies. The farmers were linked to exporters to enable them sell their produce.
"We also trained 50 exporters on how to export to Canada and saw over 80 fruits and vegetable potential exporters and exporters on quality and export requirements to reduce the current inceptions and also supported through the EU Audit," Ms Brenda Opus, the institution's senior export marketing executive, said