The tax collections body, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has intercepted various goods including garments worth 500 million shillings in value and 200 million shillings in taxes at Busia border point.
The goods were being smuggled into the country from neighboring Kenya to evade taxes.
Over the past two months, there has been proliferation of smuggling of garments into the country through the porous routes along the Kenya – Uganda borderline.
Julius Nkwasire, the Assistant Commissioner Enforcement in Customs Department at URA said, “With closure of the border and non movement of inter-state buses, the traders have been unable to move to purchase goods and therefore resorted to sending the goods through suppliers and third parties, most of whom are not licensed customs agents to clear goods on their behalf.”
After conducting investigations into the matter, Nkwasire revealed that the goods belong to small scale traders of Kampala.
The culprits, he said, send money to suppliers mainly in Eastlands in Nairobi, Kenya where there is a hub for supply of garments.
“They normally do it by sending money through “Msente” or Equity Bank. The goods are then loaded to the Kenyan registered trucks which find their way from Nairobi to western Kenya at Busia,” said Nkwasire.
The goods, he added, are then offloaded into consolidation centres on the Kenyan side for days after which they get a Ugandan truck which crosses into Kenya. The Ugandan trucks then load the goods and return to Uganda through ungazetted points.
“We have intercepted a number of consignments and we are holding an awareness campaign to tax paid public to stop entrusting their monies with non licensed individuals. We also want to sensitize the public to prescribe to single customs territory clearance procedure. We have a clear detailed clearance procedure for goods under single customs territory,” he said.
“With this intervention, we have seen goods worth 500 million in value and 200 million in taxes intercepted. The interceptions are as a result of tax payers who entrust money with freelance individuals to clear goods across the borders. These in turn opt to use ungazetted means and pocket the money they have obtained from tax payers as taxes payable and opt to smuggle these goods,” said Nkwasire.
“We have intensified border patrols and intelligence gathering along the borderlines in Eastern region. We have also enhanced cross border sharing of information and cooperations with other agencies such as Kenya Revenue Authority and the enforcement across border,” he noted.
Nkwasire called on the public to deal with licensed customs agents or individuals working with licensed clearing firms.
He also tasked the business community to formalize their transactions with the appointed agents.
“If you are a business person and you are going to deal with this person, ensure that that dealing is in writing so that when there is any challenge, you can refer to it.”
The agents, he noted, should provide the business community with their addresses, adding that the business people should always demand assessment notices and ensure that they make direct payments to the Banks.
“Government does not collect revenue by cash. You pay in the Bank. Do not deposit taxes on the individual’s account or give cash. Demand customs clearance documents for everything that is delivered to you. Be aware of con men around town who claim to be URA informers. In some cases, they pose as URA enforcement staff. Nobody is appointed by URA as an informer,” he reiterated.