Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) has urged the government to criminalise importation of counterfeit goods which have adverse effects on people and the economy of the country.
The Society’s Executive Director, Benard Kihiyo said the move would help halt the dirty business.
He said counterfeit goods would stop flowing into the country and the other East African Community member states only after the governments destroyed the well-knit syndicate behind the importation, distribution and the sale of sub-standard goods.
Authoritative research shows that counterfeits constitute about 38 percent of all products imported into the country, adversely affecting both consumers and the government.
According to Kihiyo, controlling the importation of counterfeit goods was not an easy task, ‘’because most importers are Tanzanians who deliberately order cheap products from outside the country so as to reap a windfall profits upon selling them.
He warned that the business of importing fake products was further complicated by the fact that it was supported and perpetrated by a sophisticated network of people who know how to evade law-enforcement organs.’
“It is a strong network that only the combined force of all relevant government organs can beat,’’ he noted, adding that some members of Tanzania business community had made it a culture to import counterfeits.
The TCAS boss said domestic markets were flooded with low quality products including edible oil and spare parts. Apart from foodstuffs, there are several imported products that are below standard, thereby threatening the lives and health of consumers, he said.
He warned that if unchecked, counterfeits will negatively impact on the region’s economy and concerted efforts in development. He said that apart from costing government in terms of revenues, the counterfeits will kill local and emerging regional industries, which are crucial to the regional economic competitiveness and job creation.
He urged the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) and Fair Competition Commission (FCC) to play their role in the fight against the vice.
In a move to fight substandard goods, the TBS has already contracted three multinational companies to inspect goods before they are shipped to Tanzania.
The exercise to start in February next year would help to reduce or alleviate the problem of substandard goods which have been affecting the country for a number of years.
Speaking after he opened a pre-implementation awareness conference on the exercise recently Industry and Trade deputy minister Lazaro Nyalandu said the government saw it as opportune to introduce the programme to curb the influx of substandard goods in the country.
According to him substandard goods affect the economy in different ways including ruining domestic industries due to unfair competition from the cheap substandard products.
Importation of substandard goods denies domestic industries an opportunity to increase production and scares potential investors from establishing their industries where cheap substandard goods are flooding the market.