KIGALI - The Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry (Minicom) yesterday paid a surprise visit to several businesses downtown Kigali, inspecting whether they complied with trade requirements and fining traders and those who did not.
The exercise follows last year’s countrywide campaign by the ministry to sensitise business operators on the law governing internal trade in Rwanda.
Minister Monique Nsanzabaganwa and her team stormed unsuspecting shops at Rubangura House in downtown Kigali, requesting for trade certificates, to see whether they displayed price tags for their products and had invoices.
“Can you drive without a license?” Nsanzabaganwa asked the manager of Itoto Saloon as an official from the ministry fined the manager for not having a trade certificate for his business.
During the exercise, errant traders without trade certificates were fined Rwf 100,000 while those without printed invoices or price tags on their merchandise were charged Rwf 50,000.
“What we will do next is to close down the businesses if they don’t comply with the law…many pretend not to know the law but it is our duty to enforce it,” the minister told journalists after visiting several shops.
She said that the results from the inspection were ‘mixed’ as some dealers met the requirements while a big number of others did not.
An internal trade law passed in 2001 instructs business operators to have trade certificates by registering with government, have printed invoices and specify prices for their goods.
Article 27 of the law stipulates that those who violate the above requirements can be fined between Rwf 20,000 and 2,000,000 depending on the type of business.
According to Minicom, the majority of traders in the country do not have the requisite requirements and the campaign to professionalize business will be extended to the whole country.
Most of the traders who were fined at Rubangura House yesterday were found without trade certificates.
One of them, Pereth Ruzamba, had clear price tags and invoice forms but she said that she did not know about the trade certificate.
“I did not know anything about the certificate. Tomorrow morning I will go and pay for it, I have learnt a lesson,” she said as she reflected on the Rwf 100,000 she had just been fined.
Those who were fined have a week to have either paid or submitted their complaints to the ministry, Minicom officials said.
An official at Minicom told The New Times last week that the ongoing campaign to ensure that business operators meet the law is part of efforts to empower them and uplift their level of doing business to cope with competition from the rest of the East African Community (EAC).
Nsanzabaganwa said the crackdown aims at protecting both the traders’ interests because their business will be registered and it ensures that the law is respected for each and every citizen’s good.
A recent survey on the capacity needs of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in 21 districts of the country carried out by the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF) indicated that the majority of the 2,100 sampled businesses lacked entrepreneurial skills.