The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa has pledged to champion efforts to establish Diaspora bonds.
This he says, will encourage Ugandans in the diaspora to invest in the country’s treasury bonds.
Tayebwa made this pledge at the 34th Uganda North America Association Convention (UNAA) in San Francisco, California on Saturday, 03 September 2022.
“We want you to contribute to national development through diaspora bonds which have helped governments to get money from their people in the diaspora,” Tayebwa said.
He said that investment opportunities are more in Africa, where the continent is making 30 per cent returns on investment compared to investing in America where returns on investment are as low as one per cent for Ugandans.
“Most of you who are fixing money here, you can use your money to buy treasury bonds in Uganda because we borrow from the domestic market,” he said adding that, ‘you will find that your money is giving a return on investment of around 15 per cent per annum and you cannot make it here’.
The Deputy Speaker assured the Ugandans that the country’s debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio is 48 per cent compared to the rest of Africa at 50 per cent.
“This means your money is safe. We allow you to bring in your money and take it out. We have free zones in which if you invest around US$2 million and also get all these benefits like tax free cars,” Tayebwa said.
Photo by Alex Esagala/Parliament Of Uganda
He added that Uganda is set to benefit the growing population as more countries join the East African Community.
“East Africa is a market of 400 million people. By 2050, it is anticipated to be a market of 854 million people. We are going to be a much bigger market where you produce in Uganda and sell to 800 million people, duty free,” he said.
Tayebwa said that Parliament will discuss strategies to increase Uganda’s presence in the USA, as a way of maximising business opportunities.
“When you look at California alone, as a state, it is the fifth biggest economy in the whole world but we do not have any official presence here. As a government, we have to go back and rethink. We are going to support you,” said Tayebwa.
He also called on Ugandans to promote unity, saying that working together will make their stay in America easy.
“You have immigration problems then you again fight yourselves on lines of yellow, red…to me you should love your country and focus on promoting it. The moment we have a country that is loved and taken in high regard, that is what we need,” Tayebwa said.
Tayebwa said that the call by the diaspora to take part in the voting at the general elections will be considered when the constitutional review commission is in place soon.
The Government Chief Whip, Hon. Hamson Obua gave reassurance of government’s commitment to provide services to Ugandans in the Diaspora through missions abroad.
“We are here to listen and discuss with you, but more importantly to take back home your action points for purposes of implementation. What unites us is the fact that we do not have a second choice country. That is our point of convergence, ” Obua said.
Uganda’s Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington DC, Ambassador Santa Laker Kinyera said the insufficient budgetary allocation to the embassy constrains them to serve Ugandans better.
“The embassy in Washington DC covers a very wide area of accreditation. This calls for better appropriation of funds to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Missions abroad. Of course we appreciate what Parliament has done to improve appropriation,” said Kinyera.
Kinyera also revealed that the embassy is discussing with the Ministry of Internal Affairs to provide mobile kits for passport processing to increase outreach to Ugandans outside the USA and those in hard to reach areas within the USA
She added that despite the shortcomings, the remittance flows to Uganda from abroad stands at US$1.2 billion, with US$100 million coming from the USA.