Foods importers, exporters and producers have put up stiff opposition over new tariffs introduced by their regulator, Rwanda’s Food and Drug Authority (FDA), saying they were exorbitant and would adversely affect their businesses. They made their fears known during a consultative meeting that attracted FDA officials and the business people this Thursday, February 6 in Kigali. In a bid to improve the protection of consumers, the regulatory body last August established a fee structure. However, the food producers think it is an ‘expensive’ one and claim the heightened regulations are seemingly pushing them out of the market. In addition to the increased cost, most of the participants showed a lack of common understanding of the workings of the fee structure. “They say that the fees are not paid by the companies but who will now pay them? Seriously it’s somehow not clear to know what I should pay and what I should not pay,” said Christian Mbabazi, Chief of Operations at Tabs Logistics Ltd, an import-export company. Alice Van Mierlo, a cofounder of La Brioche is concerned about multiple lab tests that the board is imposing. In her firm, she says that a test of each product will cost Rwf 1.7 million. She said that for the 30 different products her bakery exports to Kenya twice a month, they will now be spending at least Rwf 50 million every three months. Eventually, producers say, the stringent measures imply higher transactional cost to their businesses, thus higher prices to consumers and lesser jobs in the end. Charles Karangwa, FDA’s Ag. Director-General, said they were aware of the misunderstanding adding that it was due to the body being a newly established institution that most of the stakeholders do not know how it operates. “Most of them are confusing fees.[...] We need to conduct an aggressive awareness campaign to make sure that our stakeholders understand,” said Karangwa. Regarding the alleged high prices, Karangwa argued that Rwanda has the lowest costs compared to other countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Ghana. He assured that the policies are not set to harm businesses. According to Karangwa, countermeasures were tightened as a result of alleged losses of lives due to untested or counterfeited products that had been mushrooming in the sector despite FDA’s top mandate of protecting the population, then the businesses.