TONY MUSHOBOROZI (www.pulse.ug)
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URA to suspend clearing agents that flout systems
URA has cautioned clearing agents and cargo consolidators against smuggling and flouting customs systems and processes.
This follows a recent public notice that revoked the Customs Clearing Agency Licence Number 22/2022 for M/S Gruland Logistics LIMITED of TIN: 1015926217 over malpractices and breaching clearance procedures at Entebbe International Airport.
During an engagement with the freight forwarding and clearing fraternity in Nakawa, the Commissioner General, John R. Musinguzi urged URA staff to utilise scanners in fast-tracking declarations as a measure to fight corruption and increase transparency.
He added that pre-verification at some stations like Entebbe had become a point of abuse and encouraged clearing agents to always present the right documents to achieve seamless verification and improve revenue collection.
“I recently re-verified cargo that had been declared for revenue of UGX 1.4million only to discover that the consolidated consignment was worth UGX 8.9 million. As a result, I have made changes of my officers at Entebbe to avoid such re-occurrences,” C. G assured the agents.
Entebbe International Airport is a critical entry point that moves close to 2.1 trillion valued goods over 6months with a tax of more than UGX 135 billion.
Consolidators wrote to URA highlighting challenges encountered at the Airport that included delays resulting from changes in clearance procedures and issuance of verification accounts, longer clearance time due to deployment of the non-intrusive (NII) cargo scanners, unrealistic cargo valuation and high tax charges. As a result, they called upon their counterparts to hold a sit-down strike against all customs clearance procedures.
The National Chairman of the Uganda Clearing Industry and Forwarding Association (UCIFA), Al-Hajj Jaffer Abdallah noted that URA’s non-response to the letters sent made them feel ignored yet issues could have been ironed out without escalating to a strike.
He urged URA to streamline regulation of consolidators so that they are recognised in the business model and decried the time wastage from the scanner.
“There is a wastage of time which makes us incur more costs because of the scanners. For example, a consignment with 300 packages requires scanning one package at a time. In addition, the cargo yard has limited space and this should be addressed,” said Al-Hajj Jaffer.
The Commissioner General responded that URA’s mission is to collect revenue can only succeed through partnerships with stakeholders like the clearing and forwarding fraternity.
“The clearing companies that will be involved in smuggling will be suspended. Let’s all embrace the new procedures as we work on increasing their efficiency so that we close the revenue leakage,” C.G added.
The meeting resolved to constitute a committee that will negotiate on operationalization of new clearance measures and also train the fraternity with the requisite knowledge to navigate the systems and processes.
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