In a recent meeting with importers of goods such as rice, garments, and fabrics, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has called on traders who import their goods using long-distance buses to declare their products upon arrival.
The aim is to expedite the clearance process at the Document Processing Center (DPC) and ensure faster access to markets. Abel Kagumire, the Commissioner of Customs, emphasized the need for transparency and efficient procedures.
The meeting, attended by more than 300 importers, shed light on their concerns regarding the newly implemented clearance procedures, including the requirement to obtain clearance from the Document Processing Center. Katongole Godfrey, the Chairperson of the Kampala Arcades Traders Association (KATA), pointed out that their goods were facing delays at the borders, leading to losses, and called for a streamlined evaluation process to enable timely access to the market.
Commissioner Kagumire responded to these concerns by urging importers to declare their goods promptly. He stressed that URA’s goal is not to withhold goods but to facilitate their swift movement across the border. Delayed clearance can have a detrimental impact on revenue collection, making timely declaration and verification essential.
In a related development, rice importers raised the issue of trucks being held at the Mutukula Border post. Kagumire explained that some traders were falsely declaring rice from outside the East African region as being sourced from Tanzania. To address this issue, URA has initiated measures to determine the true origin of the imported rice by conducting tests on selected samples.
Importation of rice from outside the East African Community (EAC) is subject to a 75% import duty, according to the East African Community Common External Tariff (EAC-CET). In contrast, rice sourced from within the EAC enjoys a 0% import duty. To benefit from this favorable duty rate, traders must provide a certificate of origin to verify the country of origin of the rice.
The URA’s emphasis on accurate declaration and the verification of goods’ origin aligns with the goal of ensuring fair and efficient trade practices in the East African region. The authority aims to maintain revenue collection while preventing the circumvention of tariff regulations. By fostering transparency and compliance, URA seeks to create a conducive environment for traders and contribute to the economic development of Uganda.