Customs stakeholders yesterday pushed for replacement of the Pre-shipment Inspection Act with a new piece of legislation which would provide for stringent penalties against importers of fake products.
They alleged that current penalties imposed under the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) Act were not enough to stop importation of fake and substandard products into Tanzania.
“TBS regulations are so light…we cannot end this problem with such light punishment,” said one of customs stakeholders, Walter Mndeme, an official from Mabita Clearing and Forwarding Company.
“We want importers of fake goods to face jail terms. Pre-shipment inspection will not help us to get rid of circulation of fake products in our markets,” he added at a meeting organised by TBS in collaboration with Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA).
Stakeholders exerted pressure on the standards body to impose tougher penalties on champions of fake products importation, saying that was possible for TBS.
According to Mndeme, the government must come up with a new-look law that would compel importers to produce certificates of origin of their products.
This would help the government to identify specific countries where the products originated, thus making it easy to check standards and quality of imported goods.
“For example, many businesspeople import products from China…our country should enter standards-contract with industries in those countries, and in case of fake imports, both traders and buyers (from China and Tanzania) must be subjected to punishment. Destroying fakes, as TBS does will not help to solve the problem,” he said.
TAFF National Treasurer, Shaban Greva said TBS should stop politics on the matter if they really want to stop importation of counterfeits because it affected the lives of many people.
Earlier, TAFF President Steven Ngatunga said pre-shipment inspection was an ideal, but fees imposed under the framework were too high, at the end of the day, customers suffered.
“There is a element of corruption. How can fake products enter the country while TBS is there? Why has Kenya succeeded in fighting fake products and not Tanzania? There is a problem somewhere,” he stressed.
Speaking at the official opening of the meeting, TBS Acting Director, Leandri Kinabo said pre-shipment verification launched in February,this year has greatly reduced importation of sub-standards products.