UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Evelyn Anite, the State Minister for Investment and Privatization, has ordered the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) to repossess tracts of land that investors have not utilised.
According to Anite, the government would reclaim 387 acres from non-compliant investors in Luzira, Masindi, and Namanve industrial parks.
Anite, who visited the land a week ago with the UIA Board Chairman Morrison Rwakakamba and UIA Director General Robert Mukiza, highlighted that the five investors who received free land to develop industries failed to do so, despite holding on to the land for ten years after getting the titles.
The five investors are Surgipham (U) Limited, Tirupati Developers Uganda Limited, Zamburi Holdings, Devine Oils, and Mariana agencies.
The investors were fined, and the government chose to withdraw the land after establishing that the investors had held onto it without developing it, in violation of the set rules.
Mariana Agencies Limited was given 76 acres in Namanve in 2014 to build a soap and vegetable oil facility or factory. During the eight years, the investor has only partially filled a fraction of the project, and no plant has been completed within the five-year time frame.
Surgipham (U) Limited is another investor, with 3 acres in 2007 to invest in a warehouse project. The land lay dormant for 13 years with no investment. The lease was terminated, and the site was withdrawn and reassigned to Allied Graphic Systems in 2020.
Meanwhile, the government has also withdrawn 8 acres from Divine Oils, 6 acres from Tirupati Developers Uganda Limited, and half an acre from Zamburi Holdings.
According to Anite, the five investors received around 70 acres to develop over five years. Even after being given a title withdrawal notice, the investors have not replied and attempts to contact them have been unsuccessful.
“We are withdrawing land from investors who have failed to develop it and giving it to investors who want to set-up industries. They will be given a chance when they are ready. Land is a scarce resource and we have to put it to good use,” said Anite.
Anite was also startled that investors who signed an agreement with the government to acquire free land had walled off vacant lots, while some had done nothing with their plots, and others had let a portion of the land become football fields.
She cautioned inexperienced investors that any subsequent repossession would result in severe fines.
“This is not the first time we are withdrawing land from those non-serious investors. We have withdrawn the land from these quack investors before, and we didn’t issue any penalty, but this time, it will come with a cost because you have to recover the money the government is spending,” Anite warned.
According to Anite, the government has put many incentives to achieve three macroeconomic goals: boosting local business competitiveness, local production and worldwide competitiveness of local products, and minimising trade imbalances.
“The incentives managed by the Uganda Investment Authority include free land in gazetted industrial parks for domestic and foreign investors,” she said.
She mentioned that the government allows an investor to mortgage for his interest if granted land in an industrial park and develops it up to 30% (domestic) and 70% (foreign).
A foreign investor needs to make a capital investment of USD250,000 to get an investment license and certificate and qualify for rewards. The minimum capital required for domestic investment is USD50,000.
There is also a 10-year tax break for revenue earned by an investor in or outside an industrial park who invests in agro-processing, medical appliance manufacturing, utilises at least 70% local raw materials, and employs 70% Ugandans/East Africans who must cover 70% of the wage cost.
To qualify for this incentive, international investors must invest at least USD10 million, local investors at least USD300,000, and up-country investors at least USD150,000.
Unfortunately, according to Anite, some investors have failed to deliver on their pledges.
“What we have unfortunately seen as we manage this land is that, there are a number of investors who are unable to execute their projects and the land sits idly for long periods of time. As a result, we have withdrawn and reallocated this land,” said Anite.
Some have allegedly chosen to take legal action to halt or amend the reallocation process, which repercussions projected production, job creation, and other factors.
Anite stated that she would write to the Attorney General to request that the cases be handled expeditiously in court.
“I am therefore going to write to the Attorney General to ensure that these cases that are in court are quickly resolved so that land can be accessed by investors ready to develop their projects. The courts should not legitimise quack investors,” she said.
Non – compliance, according to Anite, thwarts Uganda’s ambitions to achieve middle-income status and create jobs.
Robert Mukiza, the director-general of the Uganda Investment Authority, stated that they are bringing industrial parks to the regions and want more Ugandans to invest and own businesses.
“You have someone who has held 76 acres of land for ten years doing nothing .How can we get 500 factories if someone sits on 100 acres? He or she is supposed to have created 200 jobs or built an oil factory but is doing nothing. So we are withdrawing the land,” he said.
Morrison Rwakakamba, chairman of the UIA board, stated that the authority would want to see more local investment. Persons, savings and credit cooperatives, investment clubs, and groups of individuals are examples of this.
He claims that numerous investors require land.
“UIA, with guidance from President Museveni, is laser-focused on the development of industrial parks. We don’t want open spaces but industries. We want to accelerate domestic investment, “said Rwakakamba.
Regardless, investors have complained about a lack of sufficient facilities such as tarmacked roads, power, water, sewerage systems, and ongoing floods in the park, deterring park investment.
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