Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in collaboration with World Customs Organisation has launched the Global Travel Assessment System (GTAS), that will be used to track air travellers and their goods before they land in Uganda.
The new system, which is the first of its kind in the East African region is expected to reduce tax evasion, improve security and block terrorism financing among other issues
Speaking shortly after the official launch at the Authority’s head office in Nakawa, the URA Commisioner General Doris Akol said the new systems will help in risk management during flights and not after landing like it was before.
“We are working with airlines and other bodies to allow us access passenger information just after takeoff so that we are able to determine what kind of passenger they are, determine whether the goods they are carrying are taxable or non taxable but also do an assessment on the individual passenger to determine their status” she said.
The System will be managed by the National Risk Targeting Centre under URA.
Commenting on the new system, Dicksons C Kateshumbwa (pictured), the Commissioner Customs at URA said under the WCO Security programme there’s an initiative that many Customs Organizations want to implement of being able to manage information in advance.
“When the airline lands, you’ve so many people getting off with their bags and when they land at Entebbe, we have to check them through the scanners. What has been happening, we have been managing the risk when it arrives on our land; when you arrive, that’s when we start looking at you, what you might be carrying; whether it pays tax or not but the modern way of doing things is to zip data in advance,” Kateshumbwa said.
URA, he said, will now be able to get pre-arrival passenger manifest from airlines that will detail who is coming, what kind of cargo they are carrying, the weight, the movements among others.
He added that some families have been going for holiday and coming back with heavy luggage that are not categorized as personal luggage.
“It will also help us work with other government agencies especially security to profile passengers; If security is interested in someone like drug traffickers or terrorists, we will know in advance because this system is open,” he said, adding th
“We don’t want to be searching wrong people and leaving out people who could be having interest in. When you arrive, we may pick you out of 20 people and interrogate you further basing on the information that we have,” he said
“Customs contribute 35% of all the revenues and we are always coming up with initiatives to help us hit revenue target. This is one of those initiatives but it is important in facilitation quick movement of people,” he added
Kateshumbwa said they already have two airlines on board; RwandaAir and Kenya Airways and that they are discussing with others.