Written by JAMES MWAKISYALA Saturday, 28 February 2009 DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA - Tanzania's Fair Competition Commission (FCC) impounded and destroyed imports worth US$ 1.2 million (TShs1.6 billion) last year in a bid to combat fake goods crime involving 25 businesses. The biggest single lot comprised three containers packed with 1,950 counterfeit television sets worth TShs350 million ($260,000), and the smallest were eight big boxes containing mobile phone housings and frosted bulbs all worth TShs2 million ($1,500) each. The Director General of the FCC, Godfrey Enock Mkocha, told East African Business Week that "most of the counterfeits come from China and other Far Eastern countries." He said although the FCC had not conducted a comprehensive study of the seriousness of counterfeiting in the Tanzania market, he estimates "there could be as much as 30 percent of all imports, but we can't impound all counterfeit goods. It's technically difficult as one cannot open and check every container landing at Tanzanian ports." He added: "We conduct random sampling of containers at the ports of entry and depend on the co-operation of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and the general public to tip us on the whereabouts of the counterfeit goods. We have been receiving good co-operation so far." The FCC has been impounding mostly electronic gadgets; building materials such as electrical wires and bulbs; television sets and motor vehicle spare parts. Upon impounding the counterfeits, they are destroyed at the owners' expenses in broad daylight supervised by the FCC, the police and watched by the media. The FFC chief said the owner is fined TShs5 million (about $3,700) or taken to court where when convicted is sentenced to between four and 15 years or fined between TShs10 and TShs50 million ($7.500 - $37,000) or both punishments. Mkocha said most of the culprits pay the fine. FCC is a government agency responsible for maintaining fair play in business and protects the consumers. Mkocha said although the agency was created by the Merchandise Marks Act 1963, it became effective the act was amended in 2002, 2004 and 2007. Counterfeiting, Mkocha said, has been criminalized in Tanzania under that law because those who commit the crime produce goods in the name of other legitimate trade names, virtually 'impersonating'. One way of detecting counterfeits is when certain trade name products are sold far cheaper than the genuine market price. "Counterfeiting crime must be fought because it discourages investors who want to produce products here, create jobs and give revenue to the government and they also undercut importers of genuine products," he emphasized. Mkocha disclosed that government has formed a task force to deal with the matter comprising the TRA, the police, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), the Tanzania Food and Drug Agency and the Attorney General. "The task force has been effective in combating this crime," he added. However, he said the other East African Community countries of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have no specific legislations on counterfeiting although they have not been spared of the crime by the unscrupulous businessmen. He said the FCC has been conducting an education campaign through the radio and television, and conducted consumer sensitization seminars in five of the 21 Tanzania mainland regions, namely Arusha, Dodoma, Mbeya, Mtwara and Mwanza. It also held briefings with editors of the media in Dar es Salaam. A while back the East African Community (EAC) secretariat express serious concern over the crime saying it was counter-productive to investment efforts as it discourages would-be investors from overseas.