5,000 City Traders, Clearing Agents to Hold Demo over URA’s New Import Rules

Over 5,000 city traders and clearing agents have announced that they will on Tuesday march in protest of import rules issued by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).

URA last week announced that some goods, including footwear, motor vehicle tyres and garments, would, effective October 20, 2019, not be eligible for customs warehousing.

However, the traders, who have labelled the move draconian and intended to kick them out of business, said on Tuesday they will march around Kampala and then deliver a document to Minister of Trade Amelia Kyambadde at her office.

The chairman of Kampala City Traders’ Association (Kacita), Mr Everest Kayondo, yesterday said they have already notified the police of their plans.

Mr Tom Byarugaba, the president of the federation of the customs agents and freight forwarders, said the order that all goods be cleared at port of entry means they didn’t have business any more. He said they had tried setting up in Kenya and Tanzania but governments there made it hard for them.

According to URA, traders would be required to bring in goods, clear taxes immediately and then continue to final destination. If the traders do not clear the goods within the stipulated time, they have to pay for security that was previously guaranteed by URA’s customs warehouses.

However, the traders say the directive is inhuman and anti-trade.

Mr Kayondo said that the document issued by URA is not specific on the exact goods they were targeting and they have realized that they have far-reaching impact than they thought.

The other gazetted goods are sugar, milled and broken rice, building materials, wines and spirits (except the duty-free ones), motor vehicle tyres and tubes, motorcycle tyres and tubes,  garments of all kinds and and imported cars of 14 years and above.

Initially, URA allowed the importers a 21-day period within which to clear the duties. Now URA says if goods declared to customs are not paid for within 72 hours, they will be taken to the customs warehouse and the owner will then be charged a redemption fee of 1 per cent of the cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) value of the goods.

Mr Dicksons Kateshumbwa, the commissioner customs at URA, said they have to facilitate quick clearance of goods out of customs.

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