Uganda has dropped seven places to the position of 122nd in the 2018 World Bank’s Doing Business report after failing to implement reforms that would have eased the trading environment.
During the period in review, from June 2016 to June 2017, Uganda only introduced just one reform that slightly improved trading among the East African trading partners.
“Uganda reduced the time for export documentary compliance and border compliance by allowing for electronic documents submission and processing of certificates of origin and further developing the Malaba one-stop border post,” the report says.
At least 190 economies were ranked. The Doing Business report project analyses small and medium-size companies and measures the regulations applying to them through their life cycle.
The Doing Business report is an important document that some investors consider before making final investment decisions in particular countries.
Despite the decline, Uganda has made progress through the ease with which one can start a business by eliminating the requirement that a commissioner of oaths must sign compliance declarations.
The country also made paying taxes easier by eliminating the requirement for tax returns to be submitted in hard copy.
The Uganda Revenue Authority recently launched a partnership with MasterCard that eases the payment of taxes using online platforms such as Payway and mobile money, among others.
Jolly Kaguhangire, the executive director of the Uganda Investment Authority, told The Observer that one of the key impediments to improving the business climate are poor services and funding constraints among government agencies.
“One area which is causing most of the challenges is the funding. It has not been good at all. It [UIA] has been really underfunded and that cripples everything you have planned to do. It will demoralize staff, affect the management and affect the investors,” she said.
In the East African Community, Rwanda remains the most conducive place to do business, according to the World Bank. It moved 15 steps forward in the ranking from the 56th position to the 41st.
Some of the reforms Rwanda made include increasing quality control during construction by introducing risk-based inspections; implementing online services to facilitate the registration of property transfers and paying taxes through an online system of filling, among others.
Tanzania’s ranking, on the other hand, dropped to 137th from 132nd after introducing a more expensive policy of registering property that increased the land and property fee. Kenya, the largest economy in East Africa, moved 12 places up to position 80 from 92.
There are still concerns about the high levels of corruption in the EAC block, which have made doing business difficult, according to the report.
For instance, a recent study by Transparency International conducted in all the EAC countries found that about 90 per cent of respondents who encountered a bribery incident did not report it or make a complaint to any authority.