Pre-inspection will fight counterfeits
Posted Wednesday, January 9 2013 at 02:00
Government recently suspended the Pre-Export Verification programme (PVoC), disappointing local traders and consumers who have been advocating for the programme. Now, debate is raging over the implication of this decision.
As a net importer of manufactured products, failure to implement PVoC will continue costing the country millions of dollars since Uganda will become a dumping ground for substandard goods on the market.
Uganda National Bureau of Standards introduced this measure in 2009 and while implementing it; the private sector raised a few concerns.
Then, government suspended the programme crafted to stop the importation of counterfeits and substandard goods into Uganda, ordering for its review.
Drawing lessons from other countries that have implemented this measure—Kenya and Tanzania—it is clear that they have taken some strides in fighting counterfeit goods. However, South Sudan and DR Congo don’t have the programme yet.
Most Ugandan consumers are more interested in the price of a commodity compared to its quality, given that substandard goods are affordable. That aside, most Ugandan traders are small to medium scale business people who prefer buying their goods from the open market, for instance China. Since they purchase from different manufacturers, ascertaining the quality of the products they purchase becomes difficult and so is certification. Yet again, while shipping, they get into cohorts and agree upon which name they’ll use when the container arrives.
As we push for its implementation, we should consider that such a measure will increase the cost of doing business. Why? Importing genuine products will demand government to spend more, at that in US dollars, yet the Shilling is depreciating. And neither the trader nor consumer is willing to bear the increased cost, leaving the government to chip in.
Without a system that inspects the entry of substandard and fake goods into the country, consumers will be the hardest hit.