UGANDA – According to the Uganda Alcohol Industry Association, approximately 65% of alcoholic beverage producers in Uganda are not registered, which not only causes the government to lose a significant amount of tax money but also puts consumers’ health at risk.

The Corporate Relations Director of Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL), Ms. Juliana Kaggwa, stated at a public-private sector conversation on illicit trade in Uganda that only 35% of alcohol manufacturers in Uganda pay tax, costing the government roughly Shs2 trillion (U.S$532.1 million) in taxable income.

She went on to say that this implies that at least 65% of Uganda’s alcohol producers are not taxed and are not registered anywhere.

“About Shs2 trillion(U.S$532.1 million) of taxes is what we lose. But it should be the job of an individual to question why they are drinking something whose source they don’t know,” Ms. Kaggwa said, noting that their intervention, as an association, has been frustrated with trade in illicit alcohol growing at a rate of 9 percent per annum in the last five years.

According to Dr. Julius Byaruhanga, Director of Policy and Business Development at the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda, the illicit alcohol trade is very entrenched, so in order to stop it, sector players need to have a clear action plan that may involve developing a public-private sector mechanism and framework.

“That technical group should be able to draw an action plan detailing roles of each of the players both public and public sector,” he said.

The manufacturing of illegal alcohol, according to Mr. David Livingstone Ebiru, Executive Director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), continues to flourish in ungazetted areas including people’s backyards.

He pointed out that illicit alcohol affects people and the economy in terms of security, exposes consumers to dangerous products, and skews trade relations.

Last year, 17 people died and several others were hospitalized after consuming a local gin called City 5 in Arua district. The gin contained methanol a poisonous form of alcohol sometimes used as an antifreeze.

Consequently, beer maker Nile breweries launched a campaign against the sale and consumption of illicit alcohol, dubbed “Mind your drink”.

The campaign launched in partnership with the Uganda Alcohol Industry Association, UNBS, Uganda Police, and the Uganda Revenue Authority, aims at creating public awareness about the dangers of illicit alcohol.

According to the 2021 Euromonitor International report, illicit alcohol consumption increased to 64.7% in Uganda.

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