According to the Uganda Alcohol Industry Association, approximately 65 per cent of alcohol manufacturers in Uganda are unregistered, causing the government to lose a significant amount of taxable revenue while also exposing people to health risks.
Ms Juliana Kaggwa, corporate relations director of Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL), said at a public-private sector dialogue on illicit trade in Uganda that only 35% of alcohol manufacturers in Uganda pay tax, costing the government Shs2 trillion in taxable revenue.
As a result, she added, at least 65 per cent of alcohol manufacturers in Uganda are not registered and are not taxed.
“We lose about Shs2 trillion in taxes. But it should be an individual’s responsibility to question why they are drinking something whose source they do not know,” Ms Kaggwa said, noting that their intervention as an association has been frustrated with illicit alcohol trade growing at a rate of 9% per year over the last five years.
According to Dr Julius Byaruhanga, director of policy and business development at the Private Sector Foundation Uganda, illicit alcohol trade is deeply entrenched, which means sector players must have a clear action point, which could include developing a public-private sector mechanism and framework.
“That technical group should be able to draw an action plan detailing the roles of each of the public and private sector players,” he said.
According to Mr David Livingstone Ebiru, executive director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), the illicit alcohol trade continues to thrive due to production in ungazetted areas such as people’s backyards.
Illicit alcohol, he noted, in addition to posing a security risk to the economy and individuals, exposes people to the consumption of unsafe products and skews the trade balance.