Shareholders of British American Tobacco Uganda (BAT Uganda) have in the Annual General Meeting (AGM) ratified Ushs 15.7 billion (Ushs 320 per share) as a first and final dividend for the year ended 31st December 2019.
Paid on 19th June 2020, the dividend is in line with the Company’s 100% dividend pay-out policy and was a timely income injection for Ugandan shareholders amidst economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AGM was held electronically owing to COVID-19 Government restrictions on public gatherings. Additionally, this year marks 20 years of the Company being listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).
BAT Uganda Managing Director, Mathu Kiunjuri commented: “Despite the Company’s strong performance in 2019, BAT Uganda remains concerned by the impact of illicit trade in tobacco products.
According to independent third-party research, approximately 19% of cigarettes sold in Uganda are illegal. These worrying levels of illicit trade not only impact consumers who unknowingly purchase these products but also government revenues and the legitimate tobacco market.
“Tax-evaded illegal cigarettes continue to deprive the government in excess of an estimated Ushs 30 billion every year. This is revenue that is desperately needed to support the country’s economic recovery given the adverse impact of COVID-19.
“We call upon the Ugandan authorities to ratify the WHO’s Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. Ratification would provide a robust framework for the implementation of global standards in fighting illicit trade, optimising benefits of the Uganda Revenue Authority’s Digital Tracking System (DTS) and helping to tackle illicit financial flows.”
BAT Uganda Chairman, Dr Elly Karuhanga said: “I commend BAT Uganda for its resilience and delivering strong business results on the back of a challenging operating environment.
“BAT Uganda continues to contribute to Uganda’s socio-economic development through the remittance of significant tax revenues to the Government.
“In 2019, the Company’s tax payments increased by Ushs 6 billion to Ushs 96 billion in the form of Excise Duty, Value Added Tax and Corporation Tax.
“Despite the increase in tax remittances and sustained superior dividend pay-outs, we reiterate that illicit trade continues to impact our business and the regional economy. Firm and sustained enforcement action, in the form of tracing illicit product to source, is required to safeguard the legitimate tobacco industry.
“Going forward, BAT is transforming itself and the tobacco industry to better meet the evolving needs of its consumers and build a sustainable business. In March this year, the BAT Group announced an evolved corporate purpose: to build A Better Tomorrow for consumers, shareholders, employees and society.
“This is an ambition to reduce the health and environmental impact of its business while remaining committed to delivering positive social impact and ensuring robust corporate governance across the business. To facilitate this evolution, the Company also adopted a new logo and corporate identity.
“On the back of our new strategy and purpose, I am confident that with the exceptional quality of talent within the Company, and our partnerships with over 30,000 business partners, we are on track to deliver a better tomorrow for our stakeholders.”