City traders have protested an order by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) compelling all importers to pay for the goods imported for home consumption within 72 hours after declaration or they face fines.
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.
But during a meeting on Tuesday, the traders said the URA declaration will kick them out of business since most of them have been using the 21-day period to borrow money and clear the goods.
The chairman of Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA), Mr Everest Kayondo, described the move as unfortunate, arguing that importers should be given enough time to clear them.
He said by the time one declares the goods, it means they are interested in them.
Another trader said: “Why does URA always think punitively? Is that the best approach? It’s as if there’s a rift between importers and URA. Even when URA systems are down, importers are charged demurrage where’s it’s a delay caused by URA systems URA needs to understand the challenges of the business community and work together.”
However, Mr Dicksons Kateshumbwa, the Commissioner Customs at URA, said they have to facilitate quick clearance of goods out of customs.