The Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs, Amb. Abbey Walusimbi has rallied government agencies, Ministries and Departments to expedite a prioritization strategy on diaspora affairs.
Amb. Walusimbi made the call on Saturday during a stakeholders meeting held at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) head offices in Nakaw in Kampala.
The meeting attracted a number of government bodies including; Bank of Uganda, Uganda Investments Authority, Uganda Tourism Board, Post Bank, Office of the President, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Lands, NIRA, Parliament, OWC, Ministry of Gender among others.
The meeting was responding to a drive by President Museveni to all departments dealing with diaspora affairs to form a coalition that would in turn help in formulation of a unified diaspora policies that will be used encourage Ugandans living abroad to return home as well as taking up relevant investments.
“My office is committed to collaborate with all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies to make sure we work together towards achieving common objective of mobilizing, organizing and engaging our diaspora community into a force of development,” Walusimbi said, noting that during his recent international field tours and meetings with the diaspora, a number of issues were raised which call for agent attention by government.
“Ugandans highlighted the absence of Government’s interest in diaspora population, especially the lack of citizen outreach and communication strategy which has caused gaps for negative publicity that is blocking business, trade and investment,” Walusimbi said.
Walusimbi noted that the diasporas complained that foreigners are given preferential treatment as compared to Ugandans, delay and failed access to National Identification Cards, difficulty in accessing duo citizenship as well as renewal of passports , heavy taxes among others.
During the meeting, the different government duty bearers committed to work with Mr. Walusimbi’s office to urgently address the issues under their dockets.
The URA Commissioner, John Musinguzi noted that the initiative by Amb. Walusimbi was timely adding that its time time to win back the trust of diasporas in their home government.
Mr. Musinguzi promised to immediately create a diaspora desk at URA that will give preferential treatment to the diasporas in regard to addressing their tax challenges.
The Deputy Director Finance at Bank of Uganda, Arnold Bagubwagye noted that once the country prioritizes the diaspora a lot of revenue will be realized like it has been the case with other countries such as Ethiopia, Israel and India.
“We need to set up an infrastructure that will enable diasporas to take up investments in the country and as Bank of Uganda, we are ready to offer all the necessary support,” Bagubwagye said.
Officials from NIRA noted that despite challenges in registration of Ugandans, three centers have been created abroad to help in the registration exercise including; Pretoria, Washington and London given the concentration of Ugandans.
According to the World Bank 2018 report on migration and remittances, Ugandans from the Diaspora globally remitted US$ 1.4 billion in 2017 with a decline to US$ 1.3 billion in 2018.