Lack of a law protecting investors from counterfeits is chasing away serious investors from coming to Uganda, Gideon Badagawa, the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) Executive Director has said.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Committee of Trade on Monday to give his views on the sector’s policy statement for 2018/2019 budget which will be passed and approved soon, Badagawa said that Parliament has failed to put in place the anti-counterfeit law. It should be noted that the Anti – Counterfeiting Goods Bill 2015 was withdrawn by government early this year.
He wondered why a number of bills get stuck between the ministries and parliament.
“The Counterfeit Bill has been on the table for surely a good time. Why should I invest in a country that cannot defend me? It came to this committee and went back. UNBS is all over the place getting things (counterfeit goods) but they cannot be helped on the law. You cannot fight counterfeit without the law,” a visibly angry Badagawa told MPs.
He added: “I thought this matter would be included to the policy statement this year so that we have a law that is enforceable and we have an institution to enforce this law. If we don’t [put the law in place], we are at risk as a country because you cannot invite investors to compete with counterfeits.”
He revealed that other East African Community member countries; Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania have the law on counterfeit products and enforce it, a thing that has seen fake products and counterfeits easily land into Uganda.
He said this is killing the Ugandan economy.
He added that fake agricultural inputs have exposed farmers to losses, explaining why the law on counterfeit products should be put in place and implemented as soon as possible.
“Many of us have been victims of this where you have all these jerrycans of pesticides and you think you’re are going to help you and you have bought them from a seemingly authentic source but you go and they never work,” he said.
The other law missing in the statement is the cooperative law which Badagawa said should have gone through parliament a long time ago because everyone believes that if farmers are not organized at the grassroots, you cannot meet quality and volumes to meet the market expectations.
He said that government needs to re-think, re-evaluate and review some of policies to ensure that agriculture gets the right financing at a low cost.
He cited the Agricultural Credit Facility managed by Bank of Uganda, saying it has not helped farmers.
He added that the Buy Uganda, Build Uganda Bill should be debated and passed by Parliament.
“The best way to compete with these big guys is not to wish them away, but it’s largely to work with them. The Bill is long overdue; it should have come last year in November but I think we had a lot of things to tackle,” Badagawa said.
About the Alcohol Bill, Badagawa said: “We should not be seeing kids going to school with sachets of waragi in the pockets. We need to work with industries to see that this does not happen but also that they can upgrade their technologies to ensure that they can do something much bigger.”