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Traders are Smuggling Goods to Dodge Taxes-URA

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Julius Nkwasire Mponooka, the Assistant Commissioner Enforcements department at URA showing the impounded products

Julius Nkwasire Mponooka, the Assistant Commissioner of Enforcements department at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has revealed that traders have resorted to smuggling goods, to dodge taxes.

Nkwasire told journalists in Kampala that most of the culprits in their enforcement exercises are traders who under-declare what they are importing into the country by using unlicensed clearing agents.

He said that URA had recovered Shs82Bn in the FY2021/22 in the enforcement done by the customs department. 

“Of the Shs82Bn that I have talked about, 58% was of people not declaring very well, but then there are also other cases like outright smuggling among others,” he added.

Julius Nkwasire Mponooka, the Assistant Commissioner of Enforcements department at URA showing some of the impounded products

He made these remarks while speaking to journalists on Wednesday from the Nakawa headquarters.

The most intercepted items include spare parts, garments, textile, shoes, hardware, electrical, and electronics according to Nkwasire.

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Nkwasire also noted that so far in the new financial year which commenced on 1st July, the enforcement department has recovered Ugx2.8b from the items they have intercepted. He said that they are using the strategy of intelligence, coordinating with other government agencies through sharing information, and also enhancing the technical capacity of their staff to stamp out non-compliance.

URA in its latest enforcement exercises intercepted and impounded a Fuso truck registration 174C which, was being used to conceal and smuggle goods into the country.

The truck had finished garments and textiles among other items that were being smuggled into the country.

Inter-state buses have also been discovered as a breeding ground for smuggling whereby goods like banned cosmetics and garments were also intercepted by the Authority.

“Interstate buses is another new area that we have seen that are trying to use to smuggle,” he said

Julius Nkwasire Mponooka, the Assistant Commissioner of Enforcements department at URA showing some of the impounded products

He advised employers to guide the drivers they employ so that they don’t involve themselves in smuggling which will lead to forfeiture of their trucks, to offload their goods in custom bonded warehouses licensed by URA, and to look for licensed clearing agents.

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Edward Luande; one of the supervisors responsible for digital tax stamps at URA said that currently there are thirteen (13) gazetted products in the market that bear tax stamps. They include beers, wines, spirits, sodas, cigarettes, water, cement, sugar, other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, fruit and vegetable juice, fermented beverages, and cooking, all of which are supposed to bear tax stamps.

He further said that the culprits who have been intercepted while trying to avoid paying VAT, and excise duty using the digital tax stamps which pay a heavy price in penalties with a minimum of  Ugx50m for non-compliance.

Luande says that digital tax stamps not only show that the product is the correct one on the market but also not counterfeit and of the right quality. He urged the public to be vigilant by ensuring that the products they consume have tax stamps which also shows that they are fit for human consumption.

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