Public consultations on Anti-Counterfeit Bill begin

KAMPALA, March 15, 2024 – In a bid to combat the rampant spread of counterfeit goods and bolster the economy, Parliament has embarked on a significant journey with the initiation of public consultations on the Anti-Counterfeit Goods Bill, 2023.

Led by Bugiri Municipality MP, Asuman Basalirwa and supported by Jonathan Ebwalu Soroti West Division MP, this legislative effort marks a crucial step towards addressing the pervasive threat posed by counterfeit products.

In July 2023, the House granted leave to Basalirwa, to introduce a Private Member’s Bill entitled, “The Anti-Counterfeiting Bill, 2023”. The proposed law seeks to ban counterfeit goods that infringe on intellectual property rights, focusing on copyrights and trademarks. It also introduces penalties for trading in counterfeit products and grants authority for confiscation to the Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] and inspectors from the Uganda National Bureau of Standards [UNBS].

In a press conference held on Thursday, 14 March 2024, Basalirwa, the emphasised the urgency of legislative action, asserting that, “We need the Anti-Counterfeit Goods Bill 2023 to address this negative trend with punitive sanctions against the culprits.”

He stressed the importance of public participation in shaping effective legislation, stating at the end of it all, they want to have a piece of legislation that is representative of all the people.

According to Basalirwa, fake goods and services cut across all sectors from agriculture, transport, trade and commerce, industry, and manufacturing among others. He adds that some accidents in Uganda are due to non standardised transport systems and equipment, while diseases like cancer in children and adults are emerging because of counterfeits.

Echoing these sentiments, Ebwalu highlighted the Bill’s non-partisan nature stating that the Bill is a non-partisan people’s law which should unite and heal the wounds of the political divide.

He emphasised the collective responsibility of all Ugandans in combating counterfeit goods and protecting the nation’s economy.

“Counterfeit products are everywhere. You go to the supermarket, you go to the pharmacies, you go everywhere, you will find the counterfeit. Unfortunately, the counterfeit products pose potentially serious risks to the consumers because these counterfeits do not have the specifications of the original owners,” Ebwalu stated.

Fred Muwema, Chairman of the Anti-Counterfeit Network [ACN], welcomed the Bill as a timely intervention against counterfeits, remarking that everyone in Uganda is a victim of counterfeits, including the counterfeiters themselves.

He underscored the severe impact of counterfeit goods on public health and the economy, stating, “The devastating effects of counterfeits and substandard products on public health and the economy are too severe to ignore.”

The Anti-Counterfeit Goods Bill, 2023 aims to address longstanding challenges and safeguard the interests of Ugandan citizens.

With public consultations set to commence, Ugandans have an opportunity to contribute to the shaping of legislation that will have far-reaching implications for the nation’s economy and public health.

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