Consumers have backed the Pre-export Verification for Conformity to standards (PVoC) programme saying the anxiety over cost and price by the traders is not backed by evidence.PVoC is aimed at curbing the entry of counterfeit, and substandard goods from entering the country by inspecting commodities
By Samuel Sanya, David Mugabe, Carol Kasujja, Mex Ainomugisha and Billy Rwothungeyo
Consumers have backed the Pre-export Verification for Conformity to standards (PVoC) programme saying the anxiety over cost and price by the traders is not backed by evidence.
PVoC is aimed at curbing the entry of counterfeit, and substandard goods from entering the country by inspecting commodities in their country of origin.
Sam Watasa, the executive director Uganda Consumers Protection Association, says the strike action by the Kampala City Traders Association undermines fair competition with respect to businesses that are dealing in genuine goods.
“We urge the Government and relevant agencies to proceed with implementation of PVoC,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Later, at the Media Centre trade minister Amelia Kyambadde pledged to meet all contracted service providers doing the inspection on July 1, to review the charges.
“I am convinced that we shall reach fair rates, my appeal to the trading community is that they should get back to normal business while we work on their concerns,” Kyambadde said.
Kyambadde said the Government will not consider another suspension of the programme even as negotiations continue. He said suspending PVoC for six months and reducing the list from 11 to six were efforts of finding a middle ground.
She also asked Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to step up their education campaign about the programme.
“PVoC charges are not a tax as portrayed by the traders, but are a professional fee paid for inspection, verification and testing,” she said.
The consumers’ association says Parliament should protect Ugandans from sub-standard goods. They add that the Government should not bend to “blackmail”.
The Government destroyed goods worth sh1,765,679,500, in 2010 after imports went bad during transit, or were substandard. The PVoC programme will bring down inspection costs to $235 from $793 according to UNBS documents.
Kyambadde appealed to traders in Kampala to re-open their shops but the traders have resolved to keep their shops closed until next week. Security, however, remains tight in the city centre.
Kyambadde said the charges should be borne by consumers, not the traders. The traders are protesting inspection fees that range between $235 to $250 for 20-feet containers and $7,000 to $2,375 for 40 feet containers.
Three agencies, Intertek International, Bureau Veritas and Societe General de Surveillance (SGS), have been contracted for the programme.
James Kakooza, an NRM MP, said it was not sustainable to continue giving foreign companies money to do verification instead of empowering Ugandans to do the work.
Sudeep Mohanty, the first vice-president of the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry noted that UNBS should do more sensitisation on the counterfeit law and the PVoC programme.
“The time consequence of handling this issue and cost to the importer have to be looked at. We need to see the sectors that are affected the most, and forge a way forward,” he said.
Consumers back Govt as traders’ strike enters day four