How The Government Of Uganda Is Promoting The Local Content Bill

The Local Content Bill establishes a Local Content Department under the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) to implement its provisions. According to the 1995 of the Republic of Uganda, it performs significant functions such as coordinating and managing local content in Uganda, advising Government on local content issues, developing a local content plan, approving local content plans, and undertaking public education on local content in Uganda. (Odu, 2020, p. 1)

They also include developing plans for the implementation of local content, monitoring and evaluating performance of entities under the Bill, and promoting development of local content in Uganda. Above all, the Act has powers to institute inquiries and review contracts subject to Article 119 of the Constitution. (makers, 1995)

According to the United Kingdom Oxford Dictionary, a draft of a proposed law presented to parliament for discussion. (Minor, 2006)

The following below are ways how the Government has promoted the Local Content Bill.

Through restricting non-Ugandans in Public Works. The Government has ensured that for every position held by a foreigner, it shall be deputized by a Ugandan. Also 80 per cent of the employees in companies and organizations using public money and resources must be Ugandans and that the salary difference between non-Ugandans and Ugandans shouldn’t exceed 10 percent. A case in point was in the independent were, the Finance Committee Chairperson, Henry Musasizi, said that the Bill focuses on building the capacity of Ugandans, which has been a major cry, but also ensure that 80% of the company budget for wages goes to Ugandans among other things. (News, 2019)

Through complying offences and penalties. Well, the government has done better than harm in promoting this Bill. This has been evidenced through its work in complying offences and penalties for those that disobey it, For example, the government through this Bill stipulates that the general penalty for breaches of any provision of the Act where no specific penalty is prescribed will be a fine not exceeding 1000 currency points or a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or both.

Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The Local Content Act in one of its defects highlights the Buy Uganda, Build Uganda (BUBU) Policy that seeks to increase consumption of goods and services produced by local industries including the SMEs. For example, in the New Vision of 16th October, 2017 where Minister Kyambadde on behalf of the government encouraged local supermarkets to support locally manufactured goods from Mukwano, Maganjo millers and Numa Feeds hence the government promoting the Local Content Bill. (Manishimwe, 2017, p. 14)

Government in line with promoting this Bill has put in place policies, laws, and regulations. Normally, they are generally favourable towards foreign investors and Government has provided various incentives for investors. A case in point was in the Daily Monitor of 19th July, 2018 where Mr Daniel Birungi, the Uganda Manufactures Association executive director, told Daily Monitor some manufactures have benefited from government incentives to establish businesses and operate in Uganda, there are no local content obligations imposed on persons in possession of investment licenses or  those  who are beneficiaries of tax and other incentives to comply with in the execution of their activities in Uganda.  (Oketch, 2018)

Through prohibition on foreign technical qualifications. Often times, the government through the National Council of Higher Education has always approved the qualifications of these foreign technical qualifications. A case in point was in the New Vision of 18th August, 2020 when the NCHE set new requirements for those students joining Law Developments. (Amamukirori, 2020, p. 16) This was prohibiting the foreign technical qualifications thus promoting the Local Content Bill 2019.

Training and capacity building for Ugandan citizens. This can be provided through various approaches, including the organization of one-to-one technical support, mentoring, shadowing, workshops, exchange visits, and study tours. This was evidenced in the Daily Monitor of 26th August 2010 when the Government signed a capacity building pact with African Union. (Oketch, AU signs capacity building pact, 2010, p. 19)  The agreement that was signed in Kampala recently between Mr Jean Ping, the African Union Commission chairperson and Dr Frannie Léautier, the ACBF executive secretary where various Ugandans could acquire skills to build their production capacity thus promoting the Local content Bill.

However, to a smaller extent the government has failed to promote this Local Content Bill as elucidated below;

Government poor policy implementation. These has been characterized by a complex mess system in way that whenever an issue arises such as, the President and cabinet design a policy and a plan of dealing with it, and then identify a team of hand-picked ‘cadres’ which does not solve the problem, but study it further and report back to you how the problem is very serious. (Kiiza, 2016, p. 7) Another case was the Public Order Management Policy that was implemented without conducting any public consultations thus never promoting the Local Content Bill, 2019.

Lastly, failure to develop local supplier local content. Local Supplier means a supplier or service provider whose product or service offered for procurement meets the minimum local content. When it comes to our Government, local content has totally failed to develop especially through the BUBU policy that was only was said to only have stopped on paper instead of supporting local content. (Kasemiire, 2018)

Conclusively, to a greater extent the government has done its part in promoting the Local Content Bill, 2019 though it has also failed in some parts especially local content building. Therefore, I would recommend it to ensure that there are inclusive supply chains, sustainable forward and backward linkages and above all minimize any potential downside effects on the rest of the economy in order to completely promote this Bill.

Courtesy photo