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Non-compliant alcohol manufacturers to pay Shs10m fine

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Non-compliant manufacturers are set to be fined Shs10 million, the newly launched alcoholic beverages Responsible Marketing Code indicates.

The code is intended to streamline production and promotion of responsible use of alcoholic beverages that are recognized by Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). This association has 40 members.

The alcohol industry generates over Shs800 billion in terms of taxes annually – almost 38.7% of the total taxes of this nation.

“The sector employs more than 60,000 but there are more in micro small and medium enterprises. If we could really use this chance to save this industry, it will directly give us a lot more employment than just given before. It is reducing the burden of employment and therefore it needs to be protected,” State Minister for Trade Harriet Ntabazi said.

“Currently, illicit alcohol accounts for 65% of the alcohol market in Uganda. It is neither registered, nor certified nor does it pay taxes. It is dangerous to the health of the consumers and undermines the economic development of the country,” Ntabazi added.

Ntabazi urged small and medium enterprises to step out and get incentives that are required for them to put a good facility in place including tax exemptions.

“I urge you manufactures to take every component of what it takes for certification, verification and conformity to avoid marriages break ups, school dropouts, abuses and others,” she said.

Speaking at the launch of the Code, Juliana Kagwa, the vice chairperson of Uganda Alcohol Industry Association (UAIA) said they intend to onboard more manufacturers in the foreseeable future and comply. “Where there are non-compliant members, the code has spelt out various penalties in conjunction with the government of Uganda.”

Under the code, alcohol manufactures want to tighten the grip on advertising of the misleading messages transmitted through traditional media, social media and other communication channels.

“We want to ensure that our advertising and promotion is reaching the right audience, of which in this code the right audience is anybody above 18 years of age. We have highlighted the perils of drunk driving and made a stand against road carnage within the same code,” she said.

She said there are penalties to do with intoxication, disorderly behavior, all of which the association doesn’t subscribe to. “We have highlighted as much as possible because not everything can be in one document. But all the anti-social behaviors we believe that would be perilous to the population of Uganda, and we have put down mitigations.”

The code recommends that all advertising goes through the Uganda Alcohol Industry Association, not so much for vetting but for advice and all the members signed up for that in a bid to keep themselves honest, that they are speaking to the right age group above or above 18 years of age.

David Livingstone Ebiru, the Executive Director UNBS said the Bureau’s focus is to promote voluntary compliance, self-regulation.

“So I am excited that if I see the sector coming up with a code of conduct, this is what we call industry standards. I want to congratulate you, the Association Executive, for helping us go into that direction to be able to support UNBS and other regulatory agencies to champion the culture of voluntary compliance or self-regulation, which is a big problem in our country,” he said.

“We always say that for manufacturers or producers to put goods on the market, they should have passed the test first. Culture must change that what is good for us, must be good for the work for the market and that goes with the Code of Practice and code of behavior in the various sectors.”

Former trade minister Amelia Kyambadde said; “We need to create awareness because people do not know that illicit alcohol is the cause of abuse, indiscipline, smuggling, and counterfeiting. All these challenges need to be addressed. So we need to formalize our small producers, private sector foundation you have a role to play in this.”

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