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Uganda hosts first AEO conference in Africa

The second pillar is that customs and business should enter into a partnership where goods go through vigorous checks and assessments and can be trusted by customs and thus accorded with rewards while concentrating on the non-compliant ones. The AEO program means, we have checked them, they are complaint, have met security requirements and when there people come, we accord them with preferential treatment. The third pillar is customs and other government agencies. It states that customs must be able to work with other agencies at the borders to secure revenue.

 How do you ensure that the business entity declares the right quantity or values?

We have monitoring mechanisms for the transactions. So far, the companies that we have are actually compliant. I can mention companies like Steel and Tube, Nice House of Plastics where everything they have done is right. And even if they make a small mistake, we will be able to look at that mistake and say, Ok, it is one out of 10,000 declarations, and maybe it was not intended. We can therefore live with that possibility of a small mistake but we also have the ability to detect it.

 How does this program impact on your revenue targets?

This program impacts on our revenue targets so much. Looking at statistics, less than 10% of business entities contribute about 80% of our revenue. Now, the success of revenue collection is a function of various factors: compliance, efficiency in tax administration, and being able to facilitate the process of revenue collection. We therefore heavily rely on self assessment. For instance, if one imports a car, he/she appoints an agent, who goes ahead to make a declaration and lodges in the customs entry. But the most important thing is that the declaration has to be accurate. This therefore means that if I can get many companies being compliant and doing self-assessment, declare the correct revenue, then, half of our problems will be solved. More often, we spend over 80% of our times chasing clients to pay taxes yet their contribution is less than 20% of the revenue collections. Our strategy therefore is to ensure that we improve on the issue of compliance.

 How much is URA saving by using this program?

Well, it is not quite easy to say that we have much less work to do because the remaining 80% as I have said keep us very busy to ensure that we collect the little taxes. For instance, you can be sure that Toyota Uganda will make a declaration that is accurate and I do not need to put a staff there to monitor the bond but then, I will have to put that staff somewhere else where something  is likely to go wrong. So, yes, there are savings though I may not be able to quantify.

 Tell us about the importance of the 4th Global AEO conference?

This is the 4th Global AEO conference. The first conference was held in Koreain 2012, Madrid, Spain in 2013, and in Cancun, Mexico in 2015.This upcoming conference is therefore the first on the African continent, which is a very good thing for not only Uganda but the continent. This conference is important in a sense that it is bringing over 800 delegates and 60 speakers globally, ranging from customs administrators, academia, logistics and more. Holding this conference in Kampala will therefore enrich not only our program but also other areas because the topics are quite diverse including risk management and trade facilitation. The private sectors, who are involved in this, will get a lot of knowledge and also be able to network with other companies around the globe to do business. But beyond URA, it is also a good thing for the country to have these delegates in Kampala. They will boost the country’s hospitality industry, contribute to foreign exchange, and also boost our image as Uganda.

 Who are the local players that will participate in the conference?

We encourage people involved in business to register, particularly the AEO’s, those involved in logistics and supply chain within the region. We have invited President Yoweri Museveni as the chief Guest. Besides the local participants, we also expect high level delegation from around the world including the WCO president, ministers from Korea and China and commissioner customs from other countries.

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