Legislators on the Committee of Trade, Tourism and Industry have urged government to draft Consumer Protection and Competition bills to shield consumers and traders from deceptive and unfair trade practices.
While meeting officials from the Ministry of Trade, Industries and Cooperatives led by State Minister for Industries, Hon David Bahati and State Minister for Cooperatives, Hon Frederick Ngobi Gume over the Budget Framework Paper for FY 2022/23 on Wednesday, 19 January 2022, the MPs tasked the Ministry to fast-track the two critical bills to protect consumers from substandard products and facilitate smooth trade by protecting traders or companies from an unnecessary competition.
The Shadow Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon Francis Mwijukye demanded that the Ministry of Trade speeds up the process of drafting the two trade bills. He however, expressed fears that good laws are passed but not implemented despite the line ministers providing certificates of financial implication.
“What happened to the Consumer Protection Bill? We now have many fake products on the market some of which are certified by UNBS. We need to push for this legislation to protect our people from consuming harmful products,” Mwijukye said.
Minister Bahati concurred on the need to prioritise the consumer protection and competition bills. He promised to bring the two bills to Parliament as soon as possible.
“We are going to move very fast to ensure that we sort out this issue of the consumer protection law. But also, we want to bring new regulations and laws that will rejuvenate the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry,” Bahati said adding that, “supply of substandard goods and non-value added products is the reason Uganda’s exports are struggling to access international markets”.
Hon. David Mugole Mauku (NRM, Kabweri County) committed to bring a private member’s bill for the same if government does not speed up the process.
The Executive Director, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), David Livingstone Ebiru welcomed the proposal to introduce the two bills and pledged total support.
“The competition bill is equally important because there is an unfair competition within sectors and we have been encouraging UMA to organise manufacturers into associations to encourage voluntary compliance. We should be each neighbours’ guardian otherwise there will be unfair competition,” Ebiru said.
He rallied the committee to support their request of Shs12 billion in 2022/23 to the regulatory body to recruit additional 200 staff to among others monitor and enforce quality standards in markets and factory outlets and also man borders.
The trade and industry sector has been allocated a budget ceiling of Shs154.4 billion which according to Bahati is substantially low to enable the realisation of the sector’s mandate. The Ministry wants an additional funding of Shs498.3 billion to spur the country to rapid development.