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Ugandan parliament protests proposed
relocation of United Nations base

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- The Ugandan Parliament on Wednesday protested the proposed relocation of the UN regional service center from the east African country.

A report by the UN Secretary General on May 1 recommended to the General Assembly that the center be moved to neighboring Kenya.

The legislators argued that it would be unfair to Uganda since the country has contributed to various peace missions around Africa and also hosts thousands of refugees from neighboring countries.

Odonga Otto, argued that President Yoweri Museveni should engage his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta to withdraw Kenya’s request to host the center.

The legislators resolved that the foreign affairs ministry intensifies diplomatic engagements with other countries to ensure that the service center stays in the country.

Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda told the legislators that Museveni has already written to the UN urging it not to move the base.

He said a final decision will be made by the General Assembly in about two months.

The base was established at Entebbe International Airport, 40 km south of the capital Kampala after Uganda and the UN signed a memorandum of understanding in July 2010, according to Uganda’s foreign ministry.

The ministry said the base is used to provide services to UN field missions in Africa. It currently provides administrative, logistics and information and communications technology services to 13 missions in Africa, representing over 73 percent of all United Nations peacekeeping and special political missions worldwide.



Uganda partners with Ernst & Young to boost investment in free zone parks

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Uganda Free Zone Authority (UFZA), a state-run agency on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with multinational audit firm Ernst & Young to boost investment in the country’s free zone parks.

Richard Jabo, the UFZA executive director, said the two institutions will share information and jointly participate in capacity building seminars to update and skill their workers on new tax developments.

“Since most of our work deals with sensitive tax matters, we need to have very skilled personnel and the partnership will help to sharpen and also create a pool of needed skilled labor,” Jabo said.

A Free Zone is a designated area where goods are regarded as being outside the customs territory, as far as import duty is concerned.

It usually takes the form of manufacturing or processing facilities, science and technology parks or a tourism development zone.

Jabo said under the agreement, Ernst & Young will advise their clients to consider investing in the country’s free zone parks.

He said government’s objective is to attract 1 billion U.S. dollar worth of investments from the private sector by 2020, and build two public free zone parks to boost value addition, innovation and exports.

“Investors who manufacture from within the parks will be exempted from import duties for raw materials, and enjoy economies of scale accruing from planed production zones,” he said.

According UFZA, about 12 private developers have been licensed and are operating free zone parks across the country, dealing mainly in agro-processing.

Mohammed Ssempijja, an Ernst & Young tax partner said the agreement will give the two institutions a platform to share ideas and insights that can help develop the economy.

“When you look at our economy, the growth prospects are limited, so as we are advising our clients, we shall also be telling them to consider investing here,” Ssempijja said.

He said if optimized, the free zones will help government in promoting export of goods and services, promote investment from local and foreign sources, and also accelerate export led industrialization.

“The parks are meant to attract more investors in the industrial sector, boost production especially for the export market, and also create more jobs needed for our economy, and this MOU will help to speed that up,” he said.

Ssempijja noted that Uganda’s export of goods and services have stagnated for the last two fiscal years, as the country appears to have reached the limits of supply capacity in the main export industries.

“Our economy is heavily dependent on imports and import demand has continued to expand, widening the balance of payments. Therefore, if we are to achieve sustainable growth and development and structural transformation in Uganda, we must strengthen our external performance,” he said.

Uganda’s central bank figures show that the trade deficit in goods and services has almost tripled to nearly 3 billion dollars in 2015/16 from 1 billion dollars in 2005/06.


Leopard mauls ranger’s child in Ugandan national park

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- A leopard in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park has mauled a child, a wildlife official said on Monday.

Bashir Hangi, spokesperson of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, a state agency, told Xinhua by telephone that the fatal incident occurred on Friday night.

The child whose father is a Game Ranger had been left under the care of a house help by the time the incident happened.

Hangi said the park authorities are now looking for the leopard to put it into isolation since it has become dangerous to human life.

“If it proves more dangerous, we shall have no option but to put in out of action,” Hangi said.

He said this was an isolated incident and therefore tourists should not be scared from visiting the park, located in the western part of the country.

The incident comes weeks after a community neighboring the park killed 11 lions in revenge of the carnivores eating their cattle.


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