KAMPALA: The Financial Year 2021/2022 closed off for the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) on a high note. The Bureau surpassed their set targets by over 125% marshalled by improved economic recovery that is enhancing formalization away from the slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The varied social economic effects of the pandemic in the reporting period had a slow-down impact on most sectors, but strategic interventions reversed the negative trends setting pace for the super performance.
Throughout this period, URSB continued to play its core role of formalizing the economy and facilitating private sector development and competitiveness by allowing many, individual businesses, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) join the formal sector. The Bureau remains committed to providing all necessary avenues to enable all economic and social enterprises join the formal sector.
Delivering their mandate and strategy
Through the financial year, the Bureau stayed on course with delivering on its mandate and services namely through; registration of companies and business names, registration of intellectual property rights, handling insolvency matters, registering marriages and propelling the use of movable property as collateral to access affordable credit through maintenance of the security interest in movable property registry system (SIMPO).
To curve out a clear direction in which to operate, the Bureau adopted its Strategic Development Plan III which is aligned to the National Development Plan III to support services delivery, increase uptake of registration services, innovation and technology development in Uganda. All these combined offered new options for supporting services delivery while enhancing efficiency across all operations. URSB remains committed to the pursuit of socioeconomic transformation as envisioned in the country’s long-term aspirations.
The strategic objectives are strengthening legal and institutional framework to promote competitiveness, simplifying processes to ease registration, enhancing communication and awareness about URSB services and strengthening research and advisory services. Among the key milestones registered include the following;
Improvement in non-tax revenue (NTR) collections
The close of the 2021/2022 FY year saw an upsurge in NTR collections from UGX39.2 billion last year to UGX57.04 billion over a set target of UGX45.51 billion representing an over 125% above target growth. The growth in collections is attributed to strategic concentration on delivering quality services through the all-digital, all-online strategy that allowed clients to easily access responsive services from the comfort of their homes and offices, decentralization of services as well as targeted awareness and communications campaigns.
Formalisation of the economy
A total of 46,860 businesses and companies were registered, bringing the total number of formal entities to over 800,000. These registrations are a strong indicator of the economy’s steady recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which is enabling private sector growth and economic competitiveness. 56,308 legal documents were also registered showing heightened commercial activities in the economy.
Supporting growth in innovations
The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in new improved ways of creativity to enable delivery of basic services. Enterprising Ugandans took to social-commerce to deliver goods during the lockdown while a number of innovations in the line of handling effects of the pandemic were created. The growth of intellectual property innovations is in line with URSB’s mandate to protect, promote and commercialise these inventions while supporting groups like artists, book writers and inventors through trademark, utility models and patent registrations. A total of 3,722 local trademark applications were registered and added on the IP registry.
Enhancing access to capital for small business
Through SIMPO (security interest in movable property registry system (SIMPO), over 12,000 borrowers especially from the vulnerable groups of small business owners including youth and women have accessed financing using their movable properties as collateral to gain capital. The SIMPO registry was launched in 2019 to support the use of assets such as cars, electronics, farm and livestock, machinery as collateral to gain financing especially for micro small and micro enterprises who lack fixed assets like land which has been the norm while trying to access credit.
Decentralisation of services
To support easy access to services, URSB maintains branch offices in Mbarara, Masaka, Mbale, Arua, Gulu in addition to two branch offices to support the central region. This strategic placement has ensured that services are reachable. This is coupled with participation in major engagements across the country using mobile services vans that have the capability of operating as mobile offices especially in the hard-to-reach areas. In this reporting period, a new branch office was opened in Masaka to cater to the population in the region. Plans are underway to further extend services to the Albertine region and Jinja Municipality.
Leveraging technology and organizational talent
The Bureau continued with its aspiration with the all-digital, all-online strategy geared towards having all services online. Technology is credited for the growth of most of URSB’s services with online systems replacing manual modes of service delivery. As the Bureau’s size and scale continues to grow, emphasis was placed on recruiting and training staff to support the vision. These interventions are bearing results with realization of the strategy and high impact goals. 90% of URSB services can now be accessed from the comfort of one’s home or office from Monday to Sunday.
Stakeholder engagements and Recognition
In August 2021, URSB together with Government of Uganda hosted the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) Diplomatic Conference on voluntary registration of copyrights and related rights at which the Kampala Protocol was adopted to support commercialization of artists rights across 21 countries on the continent.
In November, URSB also hosted the Corporate Registers Forum that brought together over 400 delegates form 60 registers across the world to discuss the Ease of doing business and the role of corporate registries.
Additionally, to support awareness on insolvency, the bureau hosted a 2-day conference for insolvency practitioners on emerging trends in corporate restructuring. The Insolvency conference was attended by Judicial Officers and Insolvency Practitioners from within the country.
The Bureau was recognized for achievements and leadership in advancing vital services. In May 2022, URSB was also the proud recipient of the Buy Uganda Build Uganda award for the most efficient service delivery agency, while in December 2021, URSB won the Commissioner General’s strategic partner’s award from Uganda Revenue Authority during the tax payers recognition ceremony and National Information Technology Authority’s E-service of the year award under the Justice, Law and Order Sector.
Stabilizing the family union
Family remains the first foundation of stability and URSB has committed to ensure all marriages are formalized and registered. Through continuous engagement of duty bearers, there has been a witnessed improvement in registration of all marriages with a 50% increase in registration of customary marriages, 59% increase in marriages celebrated by the Registrar of Marriages, growth in compliance by churches filing returns of marriages conducted.
Formalisation of family structures through registration of marriages strengthens government’s strategy of citizen inclusion in the money economy like disbursement of funds under the Parish Development Model which is geared towards stabilizing family incomes.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ambassador Francis K. Butagira and the entire board, management led by Registrar General, Mercy K. Kainobwisho convey their appreciation to the Government of Uganda, the Attorney General, Hon. Kiryowa Kiwanuka, stakeholders, clients and the general public who continued to support the bureau and its mandate through the year.
“Your continued support has enabled the furtherance of URSB’s strategic plan and achievement of varied milestones,” added URSB board as they look forward to an impactful financial year 2022/2023.