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URA bows to pressure, allows importers to pay for goods when they enter Uganda

URA customs boss Dickson Kateshumbwa speaking to traders in Kampala

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  Uganda Revenue Authority has bowed to traders’ pressure to allow them to pay taxes for their goods when they enter Uganda.  

The tax body had directed that all imported goods be cleared from the port of entry under the single customs territory. This meant that a trader would import goods and when they reach Mombasa or Dar-Es-Salaam, they pay taxes immediately and continue to the final destination – in this case, Uganda. 

The directive, which was to start on October 20, 2019, also listed ten goods that would no longer be eligible for warehousing, including garments, motor vehicle and cycle tyres, sugar, and rice. But the traders rejected it, saying there are high chances that they will pay taxes for goods in Mombasa and lose them before they reach Kampala. They argued this would mean they made a double loss.  

At a meeting at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on Friday, URA officials seemed to go around the issue but traders led by leader Everest Kayondo insisted the tax body be clear on where they pay their taxes from.   

Dickson Kateshumbwa, the URA commissioner for customs, told traders that they would not be forced to clear their goods from Mombasa.      

Kateshumbwa, however, said 53 per cent of goods already pay taxes from the port of entry. 

On the issue of bonded warehouses, Kateshumbwa said traders were using them to play games changing goods, their expiry dates to sell unsuspecting customers, and also there are leakages where traders sneak out goods without the knowledge of the tax body.     

He said they would put strict rules on warehouses. He said traders who wanted to warehouse their goods, they can request for longer warehousing periods.

Also, he said traders had between 3-6 days when their goods reach Kampala for their goods to be in warehouses in an arrangement called transit shed regime and they will have to pay for them within this period.  

If a trader has a problem with getting money, Kateshumbwa said, they can reach out to the tax body and they have a special arrangement for them. The traders agreed, averting the looming strike that would have forced traders to close their shops.   

Kateshumbwa said traders must be compliant if they don’t want to be intercepted along the way. He said last year, at least 790,000 containers were coming into Uganda, only 6,000 were intercepted and they had contraband in them.

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