How do counterfeit phones get into this country in the first place?
Posted Monday, January 28 2013 at 02:00
Recently, the government proposed a pre-inspection strategy as one way of fulfilling some of its obligations to Ugandans but this was met with strong opposition from the business community and it seems the government has not analysed why.
I am writing to express dismay at the intended move by the government to hurt the population by unfairly disabling what they call counterfeit phone sets. What is a counterfeit anyway and who is supposed to identify it? More importantly, who is supposed to stop its entry into Uganda? All these are roles of government, which it has failed to handle and now wants poor Ugandans to pay for its failures.
Recently, the government proposed a pre-inspection strategy as one way of fulfilling some of its obligations to Ugandans but this was met with strong opposition from the business community and it seems the government has not analysed why. In my view, the programme would be good but given the mode of operation of some government organs characterised by corruption, delays and deliberate sabotage in some cases, traders were justified to have smelt a rat before its death.
Back to the topical issue of counterfeit phones. I would like to remind government of the following:
1. The government of Uganda looked on as these phones were being imported into this country and even collected taxes from importers. Although it is obliged to ensure that Ugandans get acceptable standard services, the government ought not punish its citizens for its own failures. (This may be the new trend because the same principle seems to have been applied to refund embezzled funds from the OPM, using taxpayers money).
2. Government has continued collecting taxes on airtime and other transactions from these same sets. If counterfeit phones are used by the majority of mainly low income earners, how much will you hurt this country’s economy by a sudden crackdown on innocent citizens who bought merchandise imported into the country under failed government supervision? Remember the telecommunications sub-sector owes much of its performance on these sets.
3. I am equally disturbed when some businessmen complain about counterfeit goods and yet they are the ones who import them to make unrealistic profits from unsuspecting customers. Worse still, when a move is proposed to provide checks, the same traders vehemently oppose them, perhaps justifiably some times.
In my understanding, ‘fake’ or counterfeit phones either malfunction after limited time of use, perform with lower efficiency or break down completely during use. If these are the phones the government is targeting, then honestly it will be wasting taxpayers’ resources planning and implementing unnecessary measures to get rid of them.
My advice to the government is to change strategy and target a policy that stops or controls entry into Uganda of more counterfeit phones and forget about the ones already in the market because they will naturally phase themselves out through breakages and malfunction. They do not need to be disabled. The public also needs some education about counterfeits.