Uganda Revenue Authority–URA
came under the spotlight during the counterfeit conference held in Kampala on
Tuesday over the effectiveness of its digital stamps and tracking solutions.
The conference that was organised by the Anti-Counterfeit Network in Africa drew participants from among other
countries Uganda, Tanzania and Switzerland.
However, during the meeting,
participants tasked URA to explain the applicability of digital tax stamps in
Digital tax stamps as
explained by Assistant Commissioner for domestic taxes department, James
Odongo, who represented the URA Commissioner General, Doris Akol, means
physical paper stamps, which are applied on goods or their packaging containing
security features such as codes to prevent counterfeiting and allow for the
tracing of the goods.
He explained that digital tax
stamps will enable consumers validate the stamp, traders and manufacturers track
the product movement. It also enables government to monitor compliance of the
He also says the stamp also contains the quick response code (QR code)
that allows distributors, retailers and consumers to use an app on their smart
phones to verify the authenticity of the products and online ordering among
However, even with this explanation,
investigators, consumers and traders questioned whether the tax body sensitised
the public on how digital stamp works. They also tasked Odongo to explain
mechanisms put in place to track products even after they have been used.
Solomon Oyebode Wilson, the Lead Investigator
Clapper Ho Use Brand Protection and Investigation, said Uganda Manufacturers
Association –UMA should have taken lead in providing initiatives to fight counterfeits.
Oyebode argued that the exercise duty tax imposed on digital stamps will make manufacturers and service providers to transfer
costs to consumers. Oyebode tasked URA to explain its reverse technology since
local counterfeiters package fake products in branded boxes, tins and bottles.
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URA introduced digital tracking solution and
digital tax stamps in 2018 amidst criticism from traders and manufacturers. The
move also gave birth to a number of court cases in 2019.
The tax body explained
that digital tax stamps and digital tracking solutions would help fight illicit
trade and counterfeit products thus protecting consumers against counterfeit
products and safeguard local manufacturers from unfair competition.
At least 30 companies including Rwenzori
beverages have already embraced digital tax stamps. Isaac Kiyingi, the Executive
Secretary Uganda Consumers Protection Association, called for inclusion of
mechanisms that would ensure consumers are compensated for counterfeited
products that find their way on the market.
said in most cases authorities impound counterfeited products but don’t talk
about compensating consumers who had already bought them.
reasons, can be resolved by bringing other stakeholders such as traders and
consumers’ associations on board.
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Everest Kayondo, the Chairperson Kampala City
Traders Association –KACITA, said government should ensure digital taxi stamps
and digital tracking systems are free of charge in order to avoid counterfeits
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One of Anti-Counterfeit Network in Africa Directors,
Fred Mwema urged URA to first conduct countrywide sensitisation about digital
tax stamps and digital tracking systems/ solutions to avoid public criticism.