KAMPALA – Workers Members of Parliament led by Margaret Rwabushaija have met with stakeholders to further scrutinize the Markets Bill 2021 ahead of its passing.
Once the Bill is passed into law, it will repeal and replace The 1942 Markets Act, Cap 94 to provide for legal and economic reforms in the management of markets across the country.
“The Markets Bill, 2021” seeks harmonise the running of markets across the country.
According to Rwabushaija the current Markets Act is obsolete and doesn’t provide for the changes that have occurred within the economy since 1942, making its provisions obsolete.
The Bill seeks to repeal and replace The 1942 Markets Act, CAP. 94 in order to provide for comprehensive legal and economic reforms that have evolved over time.
Rwabushaija argued that the current Markets Act is obsolete and does not provide for the changes that have occurred within the economy since 1942, making its provisions obsolete.
“CAP. 94 of the current Markets Act places the establishment, administration and maintenance of markets solely in the hands of districts and municipal councils, yet with enactment of the 1995 constitution, the economy was liberalised putting management, maintenance and ownership of markets In the hands of individuals,” she said.
Rwabushaija who was speaking during a Parliamentary Consultative Meeting on the Markets Amendment Bill 2021, held at fairway Hotel in Kampala added that over time, market vendors, private individuals and companies have joined the market business to establish and manage markets, yet the current law does not provide for them, rendering the restrictions of the current law archaic.
“The current Markets Act places the establishment and administration of markets solely in the hands of Government. Section I of the Markets Act for example, prohibits any other person or authority other than the district administration, a municipal council and a town council within their jurisdictions, from establishing and maintaining a market.
“This legal regime was based on the economic structure at the time, during which period Uganda operated a planned economy where all elements of the economy were determined centrally by the Government. However, with the advent of a liberalised economy, buttressed with the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, Ugandans were granted the right to practice their professions and to carry on lawful occupation, trade or business. As a result of the economic and legal reforms that have evolved overtime, there is need to align the regulation of markets.
“Bill No. 33 Markets Bill 2021 Section 2 of the Markets Act empowers the Minister to make rules and byelaws for carrying into effect the purposes of the Act. The Act however, does not define or specify the responsible Minister. When the Markets Act was enacted in 1942, Uganda had a centralised system of governance, it was therefore, presumably the Minister responsible for trade who was responsible for handling matters relating to markets. However, when the decentralised system of governance was introduced, the Minister responsible for local governments took over the governance of local governments affairs under which the markets operations fall. Hence, the need to align the law to the changes in policy.
“The Kampala Capital City Act, 2010 mandates Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to establish markets within the Capital City and devolved the administration of markets to Division Urban Councils. Given that the Capital City has a separate Ministry responsible for its affairs different from that of local governments, there is need to cater for the administrative uniqueness of KCCA and facilitate collaboration of the two Ministries to ensure coordinated implementation of markets regulation The Markets Act does not provide for the management of vendors, including the involvement of vendors in the affairs of markets and vendors registration. In addition, the Act does not make provision for determination of market fees and revenue collection.
“The absence of regularised modalities on management of vendors, revenue determination and collection has resulted in unending conflict between market operators and vendors. There is therefore the need for a law that will facilitate streamlined market operations. Overtime, there have been changes in the administrative structures of local governments which were not envisaged in the current law. The elevation of some districts to cities, for example, necessitates a legislation that will facilitate the establishment of well-regulated and organised modern markets that match the intended level of modernization and development of the cities.”
Fellow Workers MP, Agnes Kunihira said that the 80 year-old-Market Act is blind about the new elements in the markets, a reason there are continuous conflicts in the running of markets.
“Since the new law does not provide for changes in ownership and administration of markets, there are fights between vendors and market authorities, in different markets,” she said.
Buhweju West MP Ephraim Biraaro Gashanga the bill should be amended because it’s no longer serves the purpose.
“It has outlived its usefulness. The bill of 1942, it can longer address the current concerns and dynamics. It is the time to make more current and dynamic to go with the times,” he said.
Elizabeth Kemigisha, advocacy manager at The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA Uganda) said new bill will address women concerns such exorbitant fees and leadership issues in the markets.
“One of the things that are important is to bring women in this space to be part of the process,” he said.