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URA persists on fight against contraband cosmetics.

URA persists on fight against contraband cosmetics.

In Uganda, the proliferation of contraband cosmetics poses a significant threat to public health and the economy. Despite their prohibition by law, these products continue to flood the market, luring consumers with promises of enhanced beauty while disregarding the serious health risks they pose. In a recent crackdown orchestrated by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) customs team, a substantial haul of contraband cosmetics and smuggled tobacco products was seized in Nabugabo streets, underscoring the ongoing battle against illicit trade.

Unveiling the operation

The URA customs team meticulously planned the operation, gathering intelligence for a week to identify stores in Nabugabo engaged in trading expired cosmetics and altering product dates. The contraband seized included cosmetics containing hydroquinone and mercury, substances banned by Ugandan law due to their adverse health effects. These products, once impounded, are promptly destroyed to deter further importation and safeguard public health.

The stakes

Ibrahim Bbossa, the URA Spokesperson, emphasized the multifaceted impact of contraband trade, not only jeopardizing public health but also undermining tax revenues crucial for government service delivery. The continuous importation of prohibited products deprives the government of vital tax revenue, hindering its ability to invest in essential services and infrastructure.

Legal ramifications

The East African Community Customs Management Act (EACCMA) prescribes stringent penalties for those caught violating contraband laws. Offenders face fines of up to seven thousand dollars, imprisonment for a maximum of five years, or both. Moreover, the goods seized are forfeited, further deterring individuals from engaging in illicit trade.

Operation results

During the recent operation, a substantial quantity of contraband was intercepted, including various cosmetics such as olive oil hair spray, Dove body lotion, and Jergen ultra-healing body lotion. Additionally, smuggled tobacco products, including shisha, were seized, further highlighting the diverse array of contraband infiltrating Ugandan markets.

“For this particular operation, during verification, the following items were intercepted; assorted cosmetics: 122 cartons of olive oil hair spray, 35 cartons of Dove body lotion, 20 cartons of jergen ultra healing body lotion, assorted contrabands (cosmetics, cake flavors and shisha: 6 cartons of fair and white, 37 cartons of Vaseline body lotion, 10 cartons of expired dove body lotion, I carton of expired of runjing hand and body cream plus I carton of Noor natural body lotion, 7 cartons of assorted expired cake flavours and 7 cartons of assorted shisha.”

URA’s vigilance and strategies

Despite the persistent challenges posed by contraband smuggling, URA remains vigilant, employing intelligence-driven operations and leveraging non-intrusive inspection technology at border points.

Furthermore, the authority is intensifying tax education initiatives, raising awareness about the dangers of smuggling and its detrimental impact on individuals, communities, and the economy.

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