President Yoweri Museveni has urged investors to report Ugandan government officials who seek bribes, saying punitive action will be taken against those found guilty.
“We have launched a campaign against the corrupt. It is easy to root out this evil. The public hates them. All we need are facts. We are discouraging anyone who pays bribes. Don’t deal with crooks,” said Museveni.
Museveni made the call yesterday in London as he addressed leaders of over 70 British companies at the UK-Uganda Business Forum at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Central London.
The President is in London on a four-day official visit where he took part in the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit. The business forum was organised by the Uganda High Commission, supported by Lord Dolar Popat, the UK Trade Envoy to Uganda.
Making a case for Uganda as an ideal investment destination, the President said corruption, especially by government officials, had become a “bottleneck” to development and the whip was being cracked.
Appealing to investors to support the government in stemming the vice, the President said the identities of the whistleblowers would be protected if they felt threatened.
“We are suppressing corruption but we need facts to totally eliminate it. Please notify me; let’s lay traps for them. We shall protect your identities, you can speak to your high commissioner who will get to me,” he said.
Without divulging details, the President said he had stopped award of contracts to investors thought to have paid bribes to government officials in a project involving a dam and the Jinja Expressway.
He challenged the British investors to find proper spectacles to help them see opportunities, just like the Chinese were doing.
“The British tend to make good quality products. They should take the advantage of the natural resources we have and market to set up shop in Uganda.”
The President pointed out that Uganda’s economy had been steadily recovering and growing since 1986, with now 4,900 factories setting up base in the country.
This he said was because besides guaranteeing peace and stability, the NRM government had overseen the establishment of critical infrastructure like roads, dams and skilling the labour force.
“Uganda has good tarmac roads now. You can move from one border of the country to another on smooth, first class tarmac, across the six points of the compass,” he said.
“The banks are charging extortion interest rates between 17-20 percent or even more. However, we have our Uganda Development Bank, we are capitalizing it to support manufacturers and tourism, not for importation of whiskies, perfumes,” he said.
Lord Popat thanked Museveni for meeting the corporate executives, announcing that once Brexit is concluded, 80 percent of goods from Uganda to the UK would be duty-free.
He requested the President to consider opening a central bank branch in London to facilitate trade.
He also observed that once the revived Uganda Airlines acquired the bigger Airbus aeroplanes, with capacity of 40 tonnes, trade would go up, especially fruits and agriculture products finding their way to British markets.
At the close of the forum, Museveni also autographed a dummy sim card of the British telecom, Lycamobile that launched its operations in Uganda just last week.