By Mable Nakibuuka
A team of Asian businessmen under their umbrella body, the Indian Association of Uganda (IAU) on Monday held a meeting with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, during which they assured him of their support in the forthcoming 2021 presidential election.
During the meeting which was held at State House Entebbe and was attended by Kampala mogul Sudhir Ruparelia, Mr. Mohan Rao, among others, the Indian Association reiterated that Uganda is a country of ‘Peace, Profit and Prosperity’, a status quo they resolved to maintain in a bid to secure their future.
The description by Mr Mohan Rao was made during the meeting between President Museveni and leaders of the Indian Association.
“As I often say, our stay in Uganda is characterized by 3Ps. Peace, Profit and Prosperity,” said Mr Rao. “Allow me to summarily correlate them as follows: The Peace that was ushered in and is being maintained by the NRM Government under your leadership has created a conducive environment for us to run and grow Profitable businesses.”
He added, “These businesses through tax revenues, employment opportunities to Ugandans and production of quality products in goods and services translate into Prosperity for all of us as a nation.”
Mr Rao also commended President Museveni for overseeing the transformation of Uganda and “her people from darkness to light, from turmoil to peace, from lawlessness to democracy, from oppression to freedom, from sectarianism to inclusion and from recession to prosperity”.
On behalf of his association, Mr Rao thanked President Museveni for supporting the return of Asians (and their properties) to Uganda following their expulsion in 1972 by Idi Amin.
He added, “The numerous tax and non-tax incentives have enabled us to start and grow many businesses across all sectors many of which are now focusing on adding value to Ugandan products and natural resources.”
Mr Rao noted, “The Peace and tranquility across the entire nation gives us confidence to reinvest our returns and attract other new investors and traders. This had also encouraged many of us to take on Ugandan citizenship and assure the nation that we are not here to milk the cow but to feed it as well.”
Mr Rao said because President Museveni was the surest guarantor of the 3Ps, the Indian Association would support his candidature, wishing him landslide victory in the upcoming January elections.
Museveni Commends Indian Association
Addressing the leaders, President Museveni commended the Indian community for supporting the industrialization drive in Uganda and its resultant gains.
“Manufacturing has created 700,000 new jobs and yet the whole public service is 480,000 jobs. Manufacturing alone has more jobs than those in public service,” he said.
The President added, “Then when you add the jobs in the services sector, they are 1.3 million plus another 300,000 in ICT sector, we are talking more than two million jobs from non-government, non-agriculture. I have to thank you for this big contribution to our transformation.”
President Museveni said Africa’s slow growth was partly because some leaders lacked the vision on what exactly should drive this transformation.
“Many people didn’t know that business was the way. Our group was among the first because many of the groups were Left Wing but confused. They didn’t know where the wealth came from,” he said.
The NRM government, said President Museveni, had focused on private-sector driven growth, identifying entrepreneurship as a key driver, ahead of capital, labour and natural resources.
“The most active factor of production is entrepreneurship because without it, the other factors are dormant. Entrepreneurship brings together the other three,” he added.
He appreciated Mr Rao and the community for identifying the 3Ps that characterize Uganda, urging them to continue marketing the country and attracting more investors.
Particularly, the President pointed out the opportunities in adding value to copper, saying the government was interested in investors in that sector.
“I want someone to process copper for cables and transformers. We want vertical integration there,” he added.
Passing a vote of thanks, Mr Sudhir Ruparelia of the Ruparelia Group, thanked President Museveni for ensuring peace and stability, adding that it had spurred their community into investing in Uganda.
“On behalf of the entire business community, we thank you the President and the NRM government for the favourable business environment. We commit to supporting you,” said Mr Ruparelia.
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