By Samuel Sanya

KAMPALA, The Uganda government has amended the Trade Licensing Act after President Yoweri Museveni assented to changes in the law to provide an appeal mechanism and to reduce the cost of doing business.

Under the changes, businesses must keep books of accounts or face a penalty of more than three currency points or 60,000 shillings (about 17.70 US dollars). All fines in the Trade Licensing Act 2015 are expressed in currency points, with one currency point being equal to 20,000 shillings.

Also changed are the number of grades in a city, municipality and town to four from two for purposes of determining trade licensing fees. Hitherto, small businesses were incurring the same fees as their larger counterparts in the same location.

The duration of a trade licence is now 12 calendar months. Previously, all trading licences expired on Dec 31 of every year regardless of when the licence was acquired.

An appeal mechanism has been created for business owners denied trade licences. In the past, local governments had all rights over the issuance of trade licences but aggrieved business owners can now appeal to higher authorities within the district where they do business, to the trade minister, or to the courts of law.

While service-based companies like banks, and insurance companies required two trade licences, the amendment means that they now only require one trading licence.

The new law provides for mandatory transmission of returns by every licensing authority to the Trade Minister. This will affect urban authorities such as the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

The Ministry says this will enable them to track developments and improve their planning processes. "The amendments are like removing non-tariff barriers. This will reduce the cost of doing business for traders. The traders raised these issues and that is why we reformed the act," Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde told journalists here Tuesday.



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