Kenyans block Ugandan sugar from entering their market
Posted Sunday, February 17 2013 at 02:22
Kenya Revenue Authority has stopped over 220 metric tons of Uganda-manufactured sugar from entering the country, fearing that it could either be duty free sugar that Uganda imported, or it is being exported to bribe voters.
The development comes barely a month after the Kenya Sugar Board resumed issuing sugar permits to importers buying sugar from Lugazi and Kakira sugar works after a similar ban last year.
The sugar board says it is suspicious that “Uganda is repackaging duty free sugar and re-exporting to Kenya as Ugandan-manufactured sugar”.
Sugar manufacturers from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania were last December forced to convene a crisis meeting at the Kenya Sugar Board, following an impasse where Kenya accused Uganda and Tanzania of flooding its market with cheap sugar accusing them of exporting 26,000 metric tons into Kenya in 2012 compared to four tons in 2011.
More costs incurred by traders
According to Mr Mwine Jim Kabeho, the chairman Uganda Sugar Producers Association, Kenya Revenue Authority has refused to clear sugar worth $190,000 (Shs494m) since January 8, which has since attracted high demurrage and interest costs to both the manufacturers and the importers, adding that despite several letters to Kenya Revenue Authority, requesting for explanations why the sugar is not being cleared, the requests have been turned down.
“We are right now in a single customs territory meeting in Mombasa with Kenya Customs officials and they claim nothing wrong is happening. Last time it was the Kenya Sugar Board claiming we were re-exporting duty-free sugar, now it is KRA.
“The Ugandan government needs to do something because we cannot allow Kenyan goods to flood Ugandan markets yet they don’t allow us to access their market,” Mr Kabeho said.
According to him, this time, Kenyan authorities fear that some politicians are stockpiling Ugandan sugar for bribing voters as elections draw near, an allegation Mr Kabeho says is invalid. Kenyans will be going to the polls on March 4.
The 11 trucks belonging to Midland Hauliers carrying sugar from Uganda to Kenya were impounded. Some of the trucks have been at the Kenyan yard for over two months now.
Mr William Were, a clearing agent attached to Chasah Logistics Ltd, a Mombasa-based clearing firm, said some trucks have been held up at the yard in Busia - Kenya side by KRA since December, last year.
He said his clients had imported the sugar from Kakira, Lugazi and Mayuge, and was in transit to Kisumu, Nairobi and Mombasa where they have distribution points.
“Although we paid the necessary dues to KRA and had relevant documents, the officers went ahead to impound the trucks, saying that each truck was supposed to pay 100 per cent taxes in order to be allowed to proceed,” Mr Were said.
Despite the fact that the trucks have been stuck at the border for two weeks now, Uganda Revenue Authority said the tax body was not aware of the ban.
“The commissioner general was in Busia and Malaba on Thursday and there was nothing like that. Even the customs manager, Busia and Malaba, came to Kampala on Friday morning and he does not know of anything like that,” said Mr Paul Kyeyune, the manager public corporate affairs at URA.