Government has said it will exempt taxes for companies involved the manufacturing spirits, as the spirit producers on Monday revealed their plans to convert up to 7.3 million litres of ethanol into making hand sanitizers as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
This was revealed Monday by the Ministry of Finance along with Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA). The move is aimed as well at addressing the price of sanitizers which have shot through the roof in the wake of the pandemic.
The price of sanitizers in the country has increased far above normal due to several factors including the limited importation of the same and the high demand by citizens.
During the meeting chaired by the Minister, it was agreed that government will provide the necessary incentives to enable the manufactures produce the sanitizers on time.
Manufacturers proposed policy changes to government that will boost the stocks in hand sanitizers as well as regulate the prices.
“Out of our meeting, we have been able to establish that we have 7.3 million litres of spirit and manufacturers agreed to convert or change their business plan from manufacturing of spirits to manufacturing of hand sanitizers,” the State Minister for Privatization and Investment, Evelyn Anite said on Monday.
The Minister said the producers themselves have committed to come up with a standard price once the sanitizers have been produced.
“For us as government, we will work with them. We are not going to change our policies drastically. You have heard the President and Prime Minister making an appeal to the manufacturers to not artificially escalate prices of goods. If it becomes worse, we shall see what to do,” she said.
As the world continues to grapple with the pandemic which has so far killed 12,784 people world over, individual governments are making different interventions including policy changes, some led by the private sector, to ease response.
Barbra Mulwana who heads Uganda Manufacturers Association said that the private sector, especially companies that make plastics are committed to make packaging for the sanitizers.
Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) says there will embarking on the process of certifying the manufacturers of these sanitizers to ensure the end product meets the standards.
The recommended alcohol content for any hand sanitizer should not be below 60 percent, the Ministry of Health said recently.
“It will take us 4 days. But as numbers increase, it could take 8 days to get that product certified. Our commitment is to ensure the final consumer gets the right product that meets the standards,” said Ben Manyindo, the Executive Director of UNBS.
“The final consumer should look for the Quality Mark (the Q Mark) which all certified companies will be applying on their products.”
Moses Kaggwa who heads tax policy at the Ministry of Finance said there will be engagements with the tax body, URA, on tax exemptions (for Excise Duty).