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Masaka Drug Shop Operators Protest Payment of Trading License Fees

The drug shop operators says that several local government authorities such as sub county and division councils have already issued assessment forms for the taxes they have to pay to the councils as trading license which they says that its unfair since they already paid money to NDA to secure their operational licenses.

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Several operators of drug shops in Masaka have raised concern over the levying of trading license fees, a tax which was outlawed by the court. The tax is being levied by Masaka city authorities.

During a sensitization meeting held at palm springs in Masaka city on Friday,  the drug shop owners told National Drug Authority (NDA) officials that they are stuck with the challenge of local government authorities where they operate from who are insisting on collecting trading license fees from them.

The drug shop operators says that several local government authorities such as sub county and division councils have already issued assessment forms for the taxes they have to pay to the councils as trading license which they say is unfair since they already paid money to NDA to secure their operational licenses.

Hanifah Nakimera, the operator of God’s Grace Drug shop in Kimanya Kabonera division in Masaka city says that their drug shop has already been issued with an assessment form of Shs. 77,300 which they have to pay to the council. She says this amount is too much compared to the size of her drug shop.

She says that the charges are not only unfair but also un-necessary since they already paid money to NDA,another government body that regulates their operations asking the NDA authorities to come to their rescue or else they are likely to be kicked out of business because of unfair taxation.

Andrew Mwanje, another drug shop operator in Kasana in Nyendo Mukunngwe division says that his drug shop Victory Drug Shop was a issued an assessment of Shs.60,000 early this month and when he tried to complain he was threatened that it could be increased because his counterparts were paying much higher fees than that.

Mwanje says that they need to be exempted from such charges because they pay other taxes including that charged on certifying of their documents whenever they need to get practicing licenses and those of their drug shops.

However, Muhammad Lukwago, the central Region NDA manager told the drug shop operators that court outlawed those fees in 2020 when their counterparts of Pharmaceutical society of Uganda won a case before Kampala high court in which they challenged the Trade Licensing Amendment Act 2017 when court ruled that the act of double license fee collection is unfair, discriminatory oppressive and arbitrary.

He advised the drug shop owners to form an association that will meet leaders of local councils and city authorities and inform them of this court decision so that they can honor it and stop charging them trade license fees since they already pay a similar fee to NDA in issuing them operational licenses.

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Lukwago said that the meeting was intended at informing the operators of drug shops about their role in medicine value chain to ensure that there is access to good quality safe and effective medicine to people in the country and get to know their challenges.

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However, Masaka city clerk, John Behangane when contacted, said that he was not aware of any court ruling barring councils from collecting the fees. “ I don’t have evidence about the said court ruling but it’s ok let them come up with their complaint formerly to us with evidence," he added.

In his ruling Justice Musa Ssekaana in May 2020 ruled that the inclusion of Pharmacies and drug stores among the areas of issuance of trading licenses is illegal and contrary to the National Drug Policy and Authority Act and it conflicts which specific legislation.

The court also ordered that applicants’ members are not supposed to pay for trade license fees in respect of their pharmacies and drugs stores pursuant to item 30 and 35 of part A of the trade licensing (Amendment of schedule) instrument No.2 of 2017.