Hides sold raw

19 May 2005

Uganda currently produces 1.1 million bovine hides and skins annually and more than 95% is exported raw, earning a meagre $11 million against an extra $139 million if the hides were processed. According to Dr Sam Kiruthu, East Southern Africa Leather Industries Association (ESALIA), Uganda imports 15 million pairs of shoes annually at a cost of around Shs7.5 billion. Stakeholders from the leather sector have called on the government to intervene and implement a leather sector policy to attract more investment. This was one of the recommendations to be presented to President Yoweri Museveni on March 31 when he met the Presidential Investors' Round Table. They were formulated during a meeting organised by the Uganda Investment Authority titled: Value addition and growth of the leather sector in Uganda. In his presentation, the former minister of finance, Gerald Ssendaula, a director at Tannery and Leather Improvement Uganda Limited in Masaka, said among other issues to be raised for the development of the sector is the creation of a body that will constitute competent people who will be responsible for grading leather. 'It is unfortunate that even the 15% export tariff government levies on each kilogramme of raw hides and skins, imposed three years ago to encourage local dealers to add value, is not being implemented. This has led to the classification of Uganda's leather as rejects. Uganda only has two tanneries for bovine and one for fish skins with an installed capacity to process up to 7.8 million sq ft. The Uganda Revenue Authority was assigned to strike a balance in which all stakeholders would be allowed to export wet-blue.

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