Tuesday March 4 2014

URA seizes 46 tonnes of smuggled rice

URA team inspects the impounded truck in Mukono Town recently.

URA team inspects the impounded truck in Mukono Town recently. PHOTO BY STEPHEN WANDERA 



A truck carrying 398 bags of undeclared rice concealed under packs of salt recently ran out of luck when Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) enforcement team intercepted as it was being offloaded in Mukono Central Market.

URA’s law enforcement supervisor Armstrong Turyakira confirmed that they have the truck and the merchandise in their custody. “The consignment coming from Kisumu, Kenya belonging to Okapi Trading Company, Ntinda Industrial area was smuggled into the country disguised under 1,328 bags of salt to avoid taxes since salt is a zero-rated commodity. Our team got a truck offloading 398 bags (each 50kg) and 1328 cartons of salt (each 20kg),” Mr Turyakira said in an email to the Daily Monitor.

“The vehicle and the rice are to be forfeited to recover revenue lost,” Mr Turyakira added.
“Forfeiture is now seen as a punitive action to deter this trend. This has become habitual and we think this will even send a better message to the transporters to be watchful of the consignment they carry,” he said.

Salt has zero import duty while rice attracts 75 per cent import duty, 18 per cent value added tax and 6 per cent withholding tax.

When the URA team ordered the driver and his crew to drive the vehicle to URA offices in Nakawa, they reportedly faked a mechanical failure along the way to frustrate the law enforcement team’s efforts to move the truck to URA headquarters. This was later sorted and the truck towed to Nakawa.

Although the overnment has made it hard for people to smuggle goods across the borders, the vice is not about to end. Across the Kenya-Uganda border, there is booming petty trade, which fuels the smuggling of goods from one country to the other.