June 27, 2013

Gov’t Remains Defiant as Traders strike Enters Day 3

Jesco Plaza
Locked shops on Jesco Plaza

The Minister for Trade Amelia Kyambadde has presented a statement on the Pre-import Verification Conformity (PVOC) and as well laid counterfeit goods got from the market on the floor of parliament including sanitary towels, shoe polish, electric appliances, shoes and others.

This comes after yesterday’s directive by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga for the Minister to explain to members of parliament the tax levies that prompted traders under their umbrella organization Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) to close shop in protest.

Today is the second day when traders continue to be on a sit down strike contesting the conformity process and fees involved.

Kyambadde explained to the house that the PVOC program came as part of government effort to eliminate substandard products from the country’s markets.

She noted that the traders strike happened despite the numerous and consistent efforts made over the last six months after the program was suspended to enable the business community to appreciate the importance of ensuring the safety of lives of Ugandans.

She elaborated that during this six months period, she engaged with the key stake holders including KACITA, Private Sector Foundation, Uganda Manufacturer’s Association (UMA) and others on a committee to iron out outstanding issues that might not have been clarified regarding the program.

Kyambadde emphasized the danger of substandard goods saying that there is a public outcry over the quality and products on the market.

She said that these goods have a huge impact on the health and safety of consumers citing incidences of fires in schools, collapsing buildings and the increased cases of cancer from radiation.

She showed worry of the industrialization program is being threatened by the influx of shoddy, fake and substandard goods that continue to enter the country.

According to the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) Act section 21, no person is allowed to import, distribute, manufacture or have in his or her possession a commodity whose standard verification has not been declared unless such a commodity conforms to the compulsory standards specifications.

PVOC is an inspection and verification procedure applied to specific goods that affect public health, safety and environment. Inspection is undertaken before shipment of the targeted goods in the country to ensure compliance with the applicable National standards.

Kyambadde cautioned the public not to confuse PVOC with the previous Public program of Pre-Shipment Inspection for purposes of tax assessment which was abolished worldwide.

She explained that PVOC requires that all goods falling under Uganda’s compulsory standards are inspected in the country of origin by the government of Uganda contracted international inspection agents.

She appealed to members of parliament to support this program spear headed by government to see that counterfeit goods are not entertained with the country and promised to continue engaging with the traders to clarify on the program and open up their goods.

Kyambadde further appealed to the traders to embrace the PVOC program and that government will continue to improve on it as time goes on.

She asked Parliament to permit her to go back to the traders with the views made by the members of parliament and also to ask them to open up their business which the Speaker granted.

Meanwhile the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga forwarded the Minister’s Statement to the Committee of Trade and Industry for verification with a document raised by MP John Ssimbwa saying that the PVOC program has no difference with the previous program that was abolished.

MP Wafula Oguttu noted that basing on the debates and arguments of KACITA in the media, it seemed like the minister of trade was not on the same page with traders on the question of importers and exporters fees.

He explained that it seemed like the traders were told that those to pay fees are exporters saying that traders argue that they are importers and that this matter needs to be clarified to traders.

MP Bako Christine appealed to government to set politics aside and set standards to help Ugandans and in this case is traders.

She said that government should work on sensitizing traders through the different embassies on the best places for traders to buy from quality goods in the countries where they are imported from.

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