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URA steps up its fight against illicit trade

British American Tobacco handed over a tobacco crushing machine (Hammermill) to URA for contraband cigarette destruction.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | URA has stepped up its fight against illicit trade through acquisition of a mobile cigarette destruction machine that will be used to destroy illegal cigarettes seized by the authority’s customs enforcement team.

The Hammermill is a donation from the British American Tobacco (BAT) to provide a convenient, effective and cost-efficient means of destroying illicit cigarettes smuggled into the country. Geoffrey Okaka, the Ag. Commissioner for Customs explained that the Hammermill is a cost saving initiative for destroying intercepted cigarettes.

He revealed on November 29 that URA spends lots of money on storage and the destruction exercise. For example, in March during the destruction of cigarettes in Nakasongala, URA spent more than UGX 100 million. “It is in our interest to support legitimate trade and ensure the market is reserved for only legitimate products in order to effectively collect tax,” Okaka said.

The Managing Director BAT Uganda, Mathu Kiunjuri noted that illicit trade is still a serious issue that the tobacco industry is grappling with and can only be wiped out with combined efforts. “This year’s illicit cigarette trade incidence of 27.5% is a spike from 23.8% in 2021 which was an increase of 54.5% compared to September 2020,” he added

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