Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda Revenue Authority senior commissioner Dickson Kateshumbwa has resigned.
Dicksons Kateshumbwa, who had recently been taken to head the domestic taxes docket, said in an e-mail to staff that he had decided to end his tour of duty ahead of the contractual period with immediate effect.
Katushumbwa, who served for five years as the commissioner customs until early this year, didn’t say why he was leaving. He had been at the tax body for 14 years.
“I have been privileged to serve in Customs, Tax Investigations and Domestic Taxes in addition to holding the World Customs Organisation Chairmanship, Chairman Board of Trustees URA Staff Retirements Benefits Scheme, among others,” Kateshumbwa said in an e-mail.
He added he was “particularly proud of the great countless reforms implemented that transferred Customs. This experience will be greatly put to use in my next occupation.”
Kateshumbwa’s last act was on Thursday afternoon, where he talked at the high-level dialogue on budget organized by the Ministry of Finance and civil society. He informed the public that what the tax body has “witnessed in the last three months has never happened in the entity’s history.”
He said imports have dropped, domestic production also went down together with employment, taking away key areas where they collect money.
His resignation comes hot on the heels of the new leadership at URA after President Museveni fired former Commissioner General Doris Akol and appointed John Musinguzi, an intelligence officer, into the role in March.
Last November, URA locked horns with importers as the tax body, with Kateshumbwa still in charge of the customs docket, tried to introduce a raft of rules that traders said were not favourable for business.
In the proposed rules, Kateshumbwa wanted traders to pay all import taxes from the port of entry – that is Mombasa and Dar es Salaam before their goods are cleared to enter Uganda.
The directive also stopped most of the goods from being put in the bonded warehouses, including footwear, garments of all kinds, motor vehicle, and cycle tyres among others. But The rules were rejected by traders amidst calls for Kateshumbwa to resign.
Still, under his watch there were serious questions over the capacity of the customs unit to catch all tax cheats. In 2019, President Yoweri Museveni berated the tax body’s customs operations saying it was unable to do simple scans and catch tax cheats.
On a positive note, Kateshumbwa oversaw the building of several one-stop-border points at various border entry points, including Malaba and Elegu. These have facilitated the turnaround time as the body clears goods into and out of the country. Also, he firmed the digital tracking of transit goods, ensuring that traders don’t offload goods here even after declaring them going to the third country.
Kateshumbwa said he had made “18 reforms in Customs in 5 years, no regrets”.
He was seen as one of those commissioners that would ultimately take on the leadership of the tax body. His resignation gives the new boss a chance to appoint his own team.