Last year, UNBS issued a public notice to the effect that it would clamp down on all products that would not have obtained the ‘Q’ mark of quality – indicating that all products on sale in Uganda had to undergo some form of evaluation before being certified and issued with the ‘Q’ mark certificate.
But the agency has decided to go slow on enforcing its own directive by not going all out to clamp down on the non-compliant enterprises which happen to fall in the category of small scale enterprises.
Dr. Ben Manyindo, the Executive Director of UNBS cited the UGX1.5m fee that the agency set as the fee an entrepreneur had to pay to be certified as one of the major obstacles which has hindered many from meeting the ‘Q’ mark requirement.
Dr. Manyindo this week revealed that they are chosing to adopt a carrot and stick approach by allowing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to enroll for evaluation on voluntary basis. He cited the risk of hurting SMEs which have resulted into wide-ranging consequences for the economy.
“We understand their challenges. For example, if someone has a business of 1million (shillings), s/he can’t pay the UGX1.5 million certification fee. But as a Bureau, we are handling these through a carrot system where we let them carry out business as they look for their certification fees,” said Dr. Manyindo.
He said that the agency chose to gradually bring SMEs into compliance by allowing them to pay for certification in installments before they are evaluated by UNBS.
But Manyindo warned that SMEs that have not shown interest in acquiring certification will be apprehended.
Manyindo explained the ‘Q’ mark was aimed at improving the quality of locally manufactured products so that they are able to access regional and international markets.
He observed that the UNBS Distinctive mark acts as a passport to regional markets. He called on manufactures to invest in quality and certification of their products.
He also appealed to the government to provide for a specialized fund to support Medium and Small Enterprises to increase their competitiveness and access to regional and international markets as the support will yield benefits for the country in terms of job creation, payment of taxes and wealth creation.