Beverage distributors addressing the press
The continued closer of bars and night clubs has significantly affected beverage distributors and retailers who say that they have made a loss of up to Shs550bn.
They say that the continued closure of bars has led to downsizing thus loss of jobs, failure to meet their credit and tax obligations among other challenges.
Addressing the press at Kati Kati Restaurant Wednesday, the distributors of beer, spirits and other beverages said their business depends on the distribution chain.
The distributors of Uganda Breweries Ltd led by Herbert Tumwesigye from Great Lakes Regional Distributors in Nakawa and Kampala Central said as key players in the value chain, the prolonged closure of bars and clubs has forced them to make painful decision of laying off staff, who said has been solving the challenge of youth unemployment.
They said they were representing a total of 120 business enterprises focusing on beer distribution countrywide who together, provide employment to 1,800 Ugandans with an estimated 9,000 dependents.
“This number is even higher with spirits distributors which account for over 1,000 businesses and tens of thousands of employees and dependents. Beverage distributors are classified as small and medium enterprises (SMEs). SMEs contribute up to 45% of the nation’s total employment, make up over 70% of our economy and contribute over 30% of the country’s GDP,” Tumwesigye said.
He added: “As distributors and retailers of beverages, our business depends on the supplying and distributing to bars and night clubs, which business remains closed. The continued closer has had severe impact on our businesses leading to revenue of up to UGX 550 Billion being wiped out. This situation continues to escalate as the bar closure drags on for more months.”
Tumwesigye said that like any other business, bars and night clubs need to be opened while observing the Standard Operating Procedures set by Ministry of Health.
Geoffrey Seruta, a Premier distributor in Luzira said they have incurred great losses due to the expired commodities which he said has pushed their businesses to operate at 60%.
This cannot allow them to break even in their business, he said.
He added that this operation challenge has made it hard to pay taxes because they are not making any profits.
“We have been forced to downsize and make the painful decision to lay off employees. This is not a decision made lightly and in effect, is contributing to the national unemployment burden,” he emphasized.
By Drake Nyamugabwa