Workers Member of Parliament Hon. Margaret Namubiru Rwabushaija

Justification for Establishment and Management of Markets Bill

By Hon Margaret Namubiru Rwabushaija

Workers Member of Parliament Hon Margaret Namubiru Rwabushaija tabled in the House a Private Members bill titled “ the Establishment and Management of Markets Bill, 2019”.
The bill will harmonize operations of markets by putting the ownership into the hands of ordinary citizens as opposed to the current act which vests ownership to only the Central government and Local government authorities, which is unconstitutional. The current Markets Act Cap 94 was enacted in 1942 by the Legislative Council (Legco), which was the legislative arm of the colonial government whose aim was to champion the interests of the colonial masters.
Uganda, being a sovereign state, has undertaken a lot of economic reforms, both in structural and legal reforms. Most state enterprises were privatized in the 1990’s and the economy was virtually left in the hands of the private sector players. The 1995 Uganda Constitution article 237placed the primary factor of production – land in the hands of the citizens while article 40 (2) of the same constitution provides that every person in Uganda has a right to practice his or her profession and to carry on lawful occupation, trade or business.
However the Markets Act places the vital question of ownership solely in the hands of local and central government which is not only illegal but unconstitutional. The current legislation does not provide for the forum of dispute resolution given the current spate of market disputes between vendors and the controlling authorities. But the new Bill therefore seeks to provide for establishment, ownership, management and development of markets by the Central government, Local Governments, companies and private individuals.
It seeks to provide for mechanisms for dispute resolution in respect of markets and also follows that the current law I conspicuously quiet about th manner in which the vendors can elect within themselves a Market Management Committee which can negotiate or have audience with the local or central government for and on behalf of the vendors. Whereas the Markets Act Cap 94 was enacted to provide for the establishment and management of markets, the word “market” was not defined in the Act. This gap provides a leeway for several interpretations of what a market is.
In today’s world , there have been a number of market settings that have sprung up some of which are permanent while others are make – shift and this include street markets, road side markets, mobile markets, car boot markets, open space , super markets etc. Regulation of such markets that were not envisaged in the law therefore becomes impossible. The bill seeks to provide a working definition of the word “market” ad also provides for the regulation of markets. Most urban centres collect revenue in markets with a purpose of enhancing revenue and promoting expansion of markets.
However a lot of the time in revenue collection in markets is contracted out to private tax collectors but there has been persistent poor performance in revenue collections despite the high costs of operation and maintenance associated with market facilities. This is because revenue collection by private contractors is mired with corruption and fraud thus leading to considerable loss of revenue by local governments to private tax collections. Non – regulation of tax collection also leads to exploitation of market vendors and thus eventual resistance from the tax players. The Bill seeks to provide for the regulation of revenue collection in markets with a view of expanding markets and promoting revenue collection.
Section 2 of the Markets Act empowers the Minister to make rules for carrying into effect the purpose of the Act. However the act does not define or specify which Minister is supposed to make these rules and so people are left to guess who is responsible. It should be noted that when the Act was enacted in 1942, Uganda had the centralized system of governance and so it was the Minister for Trade who was responsible in dealing with such matters.
But when the decentralized system of governance was introduced in Uganda, the Minister responsible for Local Governance took over the governance of local government affairs. There is therefore need to clearly specify which Minister the Act is referring to. The Bill therefore seeks to empower the Minister responsible for Trade and Industry to make rules for the better carrying into effect the purposes of the Act. Whereas government has constructed a few modern markets in a few districts within the country many of the market structures that are still in existence were originally intended for a smaller number of vendors. However with Uganda’s fast growing population, there is an increasing number of vendors and the markets can no longer accommodate the high number of vendors and, they are also very old and dilapidated.
The Bill also aims to providing for markets with sufficient space, enhanced designs and layout of common market vending infrastructures such as lock – ups, stalls, warehousing , wholesale facilities fully – fledged with restaurants. The Bill seeks in this area to provide for private services providers such as banks, clinics, offices and daycare centres for breastfeeding mothers.■

Vensdors display their food stuff and fruits at the busy Nakasero market in Kampala