Presidential CEO Forum Retreat: President Museveni Re-Affirms His Ban on Timber Export

H.E The President advises timber dealers to convert timber into furniture and then export it to countries without trees.

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has reaffirmed his ban on the exportation of unprocessed timber in Uganda.

“I said nobody should export unprocessed timber. So if you are a furniture maker, that is what you want. Keep the timber and make the furniture here. So, if you want to export, you export the furniture, not the timber,” President Museveni said.

The President made the reminder today during the closure of a 2-day 4th Bi-Annual CEO Retreat held at the Kiira Vehicle plant in Jinja. Organized by the Presidential CEO Forum (PCF), the retreat was aimed at highlighting the private sector’s driving role in the country’s development.

Recently, the National Policy Committee on Environment resolved to ban the export of timber and cancelled all licenses and permits issued in this regard as a way of protecting the environment. This followed President Museveni’s directive of 21st June 2023 instructing the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabanja to reverse the worrying trend of deforestation.

During the same meeting, President Museveni suggested that Uganda should also persuade the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to also ban the importation of timber to Uganda to make his exportation ban gain traction.

“Now when it is coming from Congo, I think we should also persuade our Congolese friends to make furniture because that will be a loophole. They will take out timber claiming that it’s coming from Congo. That lack of vision is what I cannot support. State House which we built in 2007, the furniture there is all imported, can you imagine? That is why I questioned the Comptroller who at that time was there asking how they could allow us to sit on imported furniture,” the President explained.

“You don’t make a plane, you don’t make a computer, you don’t make medicine, you can’t even make furniture, what do you do? What sort of people are these? Then you say, we are experts, experts of what? Ignorance? So that is why I cannot support the export of timber and the import of furniture. Convert, the timber into furniture and export the furniture to those who don’t have trees. You can imagine people are importing furniture from Dubai, a desert.”

On the issue of taxation on imported raw materials, President Museveni said the raw material should come to Uganda tax-free as long as it is not produced here.

“But if we have it here, why do you undermine us and how about intermediate products like the steel billets? But we shall discuss all that. Rt Hon. Rebecca will follow it up and we shall discuss it,” he assured.

On the other hand, H.E. the President commended the organizers of the retreat, saying they play a very important role in developing Uganda.

“The PCF retreat is a very good attempt, and I will always attend whenever organized because I always get free consultancy. Why would I refuse free consultancy? I have to be happy with them for helping me,” he said.

He also asked Ugandans to support UPDF’s National Enterprise Corporation (NEC), explaining that it can help the country build an independent, integrated and self-sustaining economy.

“I want to thank Lt. Gen James Mugira, the Managing Director of the National Enterprise Corporation and his group. You can see that your children are educated, they have all the capacity but the problem has been the backup. They are not utilized so if the whole system wakes up and understands our original point number 5 of building an independent integrated, self-sustaining economy,  they will do it,  these people are educated. We already have a very educated workforce, but they don’t have any backup,” President Museveni said.

Running under the theme: “Uganda’s Industrialization Agenda: Positioning Uganda as a net source of E-mobility Solutions in Africa”, the event was attended by over 300 business leaders, government executives, investors and scientists.