Traders, manufacturers commit to illicit trade fight

Traders and manufacturers of goods and products in Uganda have committed to joining the fight against the manufacturing and trading of counterfeits.

Joanita Mukasa, the CEO of Unilever Uganda, said illicit trade/trade in counterfeits costs lives and is counterproductive.

“Counterfeit is morally wrong because it distorts many things. It not only costs us the product image, but also affects lives since we cannot tell what ingredients are mixed in there,” she said. Speaking during a sensitisation workshop on counterfeits at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Wednesday (March 16), Mukasa said counterfeits has scared would-be investors from Uganda.

This has inevitably dented Uganda's growth prospects.

“It is a vice we need to fight together. It costs Government money. We need to fight it with all the might we have,” said the chief executive. Billy Tsuma, the British American Tobacco (BAT) fiscal affairs engagement manager for East Africa, said illicit trade on cigarettes alone costs Government sh38bn annually in taxes.

He noted that 24% of cigarettes consumed in Uganda are got through illicit ways, most of which are manufactured locally and 49% smuggled from neighboring countries.

“This money is going to the wrong hands," said Tsuma.

"It funds organised crimes. We need serious and sustained enforcement to curb it."

The BAT official also called for stringent sanctions against people found selling counterfeits to deter them from further engaging in the business. Abel Mwesigye, the CEO of KACITA, an association of traders in Kampala, said that in downtown Kampala, there are people who intentionally deal in counterfeits, and these need to be reined upon.

“We are firm on the ground and do not compromise because we have seen how illicit trade affects us, our businesses and our lives," he said. On his part, CID spokesperson Charles Twine said illicit trade threatens global peace and security.

"In our findings, we have established that illicit trade is closely associated with terrorism. There is no trade a terrorist can do except this," he said.

Source: New Vision

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