There will not be massive rollout of the goods under the single customs territory arrangement but the system will be done in phases, a Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) official has said.
The trials, which started in November in preparation for this year’s subsequent implementation, has seen URA start with big oil companies mainly Vivo Energy and Total.
In an interview, URA Commissioner Customs Richard Kamajjugo said: “We are doing the implementation progressively to avoid a massive switch over.” He said the next in line will be the small oil companies and this will effectively start on January 15. “The next after the fuel companies will be the freight and forwarders and then others will follow gradually,” Mr Kamajjugo said.
Under the arrangement, EAC member states have adopted a destination model of clearance of goods where assessment and collection of revenue is done at the first point of entry.
This allows free circulation of goods in the single market with variations to accommodate goods exported from one partner state to another,” Kamajjugo explains.
Customs administrations at destination states will retain control over assessment of taxes.
Vivo Energy Uganda managing director Ivan Kyayonka said the system is beneficial but needs to run for a longer period for them to see the actual benefits. “It’s too early to notice the actual benefits now,” Mr Kyayonka said.
Experts say this will crystalise the gains of integration characterised by minimal internal border controls and a more efficient institutional mechanism in clearing goods. He said for the last nearly two-months since the system was started, they have not had any challenges and work is going on smoothly.
Known as the Tripartite Initiative for Fast Tracking the East African Integration, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda were expected to roll out the Single Customs Territory starting January 1 as part of an accelerated programme for regional integration.
The three have gone ahead to put in place the necessary systems and even deploying their Customs officers to the port of Mombasa to implement the Single Customs Authority.