Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | President Yoweri Museveni has voiced his concerns over the imposition of direct taxes on large-scale manufacturers by government taxation agencies, warning that such taxation practices discourage investment.
Speaking at the Hariss International Limited factory in Kawempe, which produces Riham products, President Museveni emphasized his opposition to what he referred to as “useless taxes” imposed on manufacturers.
He asserted that Uganda’s primary need is to promote manufacturing, given the existing infrastructure and peace in the country. The President expressed his desire to support manufacturers and enable them to create jobs for the people of Uganda.
“I long ago told everybody concerned that what we lack in Uganda is manufacturing but everything else is there such as peace, infrastructure, among others. Therefore, if somebody is in manufacturing, I don’t want you to disturb him with direct taxes because they are not crucial to us. If somebody builds a factory like this one and he employs 2,000 people and he pays them, we shall benefit indirectly. Let him work and give jobs to our people,” said Museveni.
President Museveni commended Yasser Ahmed, the chairman of Hariss International Limited, for his contributions to Uganda’s economic development. Since its establishment in 2005, the company has expanded its product range to include carbonated soft drinks, natural mineral water, fruit juices, malt and energy drinks, biscuits, and sweets, among others.
“I want to congratulate Yasser for doing such a good work because what you are doing here is what is needed in Uganda. As you can see from our location on the globe, we are a very strong agricultural country, everything grows here, and we have been growing products since time immemorial. If you read the accounts of the first Europeans who came here like Hannington Speke who came in 1862 and Henry Morton Stanley who came in 1889, they were amazed by the agriculture they found here,” added Museveni.
The President highlighted Uganda’s substantial economic potential, particularly in agriculture. He mentioned the country’s growing dairy industry and expressed confidence that Uganda would soon become a significant global producer of milk and dairy products. Museveni also discussed the diversification of Uganda’s agricultural products, such as fruits, which have commercial value both domestically and in the global market.
“When the Europeans came, they tried to link us through a few products. That is why by Independence, Uganda’s economy was being described as the economy of the 3Cs (Coffee, cotton and copper and 3Ts (Tobacco, tourism and tea). Now this was a very narrow range of products, and we knew it and us who were through the school system we had been exposed to the global economy, we knew that Uganda had a very big potential not only for the 3Cs and 3Ts but for very many other things,” the President asserted.
“Therefore, when people like Yasser came, we had already started promoting the growing of fruits. In the past, fruits were just for children to eat, not commercial but we knew that they were commercial. If you see on the internet, the global demand for fruits and fruit products is very big.
We woke up our people to start growing fruits and they woke up a bit like in Soroti, Luwero, Kayunga and Masaka. They started growing pineapples, oranges and mangoes but we didn’t have processors, and this is what has been delaying our people. Now in Kabale, I introduced apples. Also, Uganda is coming up as a big grape and apple grower in the cold areas,” added the President.
President Museveni acknowledged the importance of linking fruit producers with both the domestic and international markets, and he praised Yasser Ahmed’s investment as a valuable contribution to Uganda’s economic development.
Yasser Ahmed, in turn, expressed gratitude for the President’s support and emphasized the company’s commitment to fulfilling its commitments to Uganda. He revealed that the total investment in their operations amounts to nearly $100 million and has significantly increased employment, providing jobs for both direct and indirect workers.