MP to table private member’s bill on business startups

By Mark Kawalya

Boniface Okot, the Youth MP for Northern Uganda, announced his intention to move a motion that will introduce a private members bill that seeks to support startups in parliament.

The MP made known his plan during a meeting that was organized by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda, the Innovation Village, and Start-up Uganda early last month.

Okot noted that the bill seeks to benefit the youth and is one of the progressive legislative interventions that will enable them to actively engage in matters of socio-economic transformation.

He added that “We have seen countries like Nigeria whose start-up ecosystem has leading entrepreneurship hubs on the continent thanks to a conducive start-up regulatory environment.”

According to Okot, the country’s entrepreneurial space is dominated by young people, many of whom have suffered from failed businesses. Limited capital, expensive inputs, stiff competition amidst diminishing demand, Covid-19 disruptions and the weight of a heavy taxation regime are some of the current impediments to business growth.

“The private member’s bill on startups to be drafted will cater for regulation, tax incentives and relief financing that is required to foster business resilience, increase economic activities and provide for innovative interventions that will promote sustainable growth of start-ups,” Okot said.

Zackey Kalega, the commissioner for the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, intimated that they will develop a Regulatory Impact Assessment report that will offer strategic direction on possible interventions that can be used to unlock existing economic, social, and regulatory bottlenecks in the business sector.

Kalega said, “The RIA report will provide evidence-based guidance on the right course of action to pursue the private member bills. Beyond designing interventions, we ensure the implementation of these interventions, especially in ensuring that the ecosystem is conducive.”

According to Hellen Mukasa, the lead at LegalTech Lab located at Innovation Village, the Startup Act will be critical in defining what is considered a startup as well as facilitating the creation and management of a Uganda-specific start-up database. Additionally, the Act will offer incentives to startups, regulate venture capitalists and investor relations with indigenous startups.

“If enacted, the Startup Act will foster the growth of innovation, attract increased venture capital investment, improve the global innovation index score, create employment opportunities for the youth and social economic benefits from innovative products and services,” Mukasa said.

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