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UBL, URA, BAT, KACITA, Police and many others join hands to illicit trade

Key stakeholders in business sector have joined hands to fight illicit goods in Uganda. 
Companies like Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL), Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), British American Tobacco (BAT), Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA), and the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) of Police among others have assured the public that they are determined to fight against fake products in the market.

The assurance was made during a sensitization workshop held at Hotel Africana on Wednesday 16th March 2022.
Uganda National Bureau of Standards together with the security agencies are also determined to fight fake products from the market.
Unilever Managing Director, Joanita Mukasa, said illicit trade is a vice that needs joint effort in its fight since it costs government money on top of killing innovation and market for genuine products.
“Counterfeits are morally wrong. If we can let counterfeits cost an image we have built over the years, then it is not okay. Counterfeits cost lives. What happens to your life if you consume counterfeits? It is counterproductive and costs time,” Mukasa noted.
Billy Tsuma, who represented the Chief Executive Officer at BAT Uganda, said cigarettes are the most taxed products in Uganda. According to Tsuma, Shs 50 of every Shs 100 goes to URA in taxes.
He noted that 24% of cigarettes consumed in Uganda are illicit with 1% being those manufactured locally. Last year alone, Tsuama revealed that BAT lost Shs 38 billion to counterfeits, which money he says URA should be collecting.
He, however, said that awareness is critical. “It is why we are here as BAT. Cigarettes are fast-moving consumer products. We need counterfeiters fined heavily,” Tsuma said.
KACITA Uganda Chief Executive Officer Abel Mwesigye said illicit products are all over the market and readily available more than genuine products.
However, he warned dealers in this trade that it is expensive and unsustainable.
“We have seen how illicit trade affects us. We have no compromise on illicit trade. If someone can counterfeit your product, then they have killed your market. Illicit trade doesn’t sustain you or your business because it is not sustainable,” Mwesigye said.
Mwesigye noted that there is a need for more sensitization about the dangers of illicit goods.
“The people consuming these products have no option. These illicit products are readily available and are everywhere compared to genuine products. We need massive sensitization because we (KACITA) interact with these people,” he said.
Julius Nkwasire, the URA Assistant Commissioner Enforcement said that the Authority is investing time in the 3 Es – Educate, Engage and Enforce.
According to Nkwasire, URA has a strategy to protect brands and make illicit trade very expensive.
According to UBL, last year alone, they seized illicit alcohol worth Shs375 million.
Joseph Lubulwa, UBL Brand Protection Manager said that counterfeiters take 64.5% of the market share, leaving the remaining percentage to the genuine dealers.
Against the above background, UBL has partnered with organizations in the private sector to conduct nationwide sensitization engagements on illicit trade so as to sensitize the public and the relevant authorities on the adverse effects of illicit alcohol and how to spot the difference between licit and illicit.
He however appealed for timely prosecution and tougher penalties for offenders.
CID Spokesperson Charles Twine assured stakeholders of fighting illicit trade.
“Our mandate is to secure lives, detect and deter. We are talking about illicit trade. Illicit trade is closely associated with terrorism. The moment we entertain illicit trade, you are playing on people’s innovation and health,” Twine said, adding that: “We are committed to working with everybody here to fight illicit trade. We look forward to working with you.”

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