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BAT urges government to fight illicit trade

By Julius Businge

British American Tobacco managing director Jonathan D’Souza has called on government to find tangible measures to fight illicit trade in the tobacco business so as to enhance fair competition in the industry.

D’Souza says this vice, together with illegal tobacco buying in the buying season are causing billions in losses to the company.

“And when that happens revenue to government is also affected,” he says, adding we need to fight the vice to arrive at a win-win situation.

Illegal tobacco, he said, was reportedly coming from South Sudan and Kenya among other countries.

Meanwhile the company has not issued a final dividend to its shareholders for the year 2012 due to lower profitability levels recorded in the year.

D’Souza said the shareholders agreed with the directors’ proposal following the interim dividend of Shs 141 per share paid in October 2012.

D’Souza said due to the growing vice of illicit trade and unfair competition from the other players in the industry during the buying season, the company’s profits in the year were negatively affected.

He said pre-tax profits decreased by 47% reflecting the lower operating profit and higher financing costs in 2012.

However, despite having illicit trade in the industry, contribution to government revenue increased 7% to Shs 73bn.

BAT is listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange and is one of the companies with a busy counter. On June 28, the company traded 1, 000 shares at Shs 2, 265 each and recorded over Shs 2.2 billion in turnover.

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