Local rice dealers under the Rice Business Sector Association comprising of farmers, producers and processors have petitioned Parliament to protect them against importers of white rice that enters the country untaxed.
Speaking after presenting a petition to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, Mr Isaac Kashaija, the Rice Business Sector Association chairperson, said about 14 companies, which had petitioned court against an 18 per cent value added tax application on imported rice, are using a delayed court ruling to import untaxed rice into the country.
This, he said, was not only suffocating their businesses but unfair to local producers given that they are subjected to a 14 per cent levy.
“For a period of five years … the same companies [have been] allowed to import rice in the country without being taxed,” Mr Kashaija said, noting at least Shs36b due in taxes has not been paid during the period.
In 2014, rice importers petitioned court to rule against the 18 per cent VAT levy that Uganda Revenue Authority had imposed on rice imports.
The case was decided in favour of URA, but the rice importers appealed the judgment.
However, the case is yet to be disposed of, which has allowed importers to bring in untaxed rice pending decision of the Appeals court.
Mr Kashaija appealed to government to prevail over the matter, urging court to expeditiously handle the matter to create a level playing ground.
This, he said, will allow stakeholders in the rice sector to compete on a levelled ground.
Responding to the petition, Ms Kadaga said she will handle the matter accordingly and will ask the Attorney General to explain why there had been a delay to dispose of the case.
Mr Kashaija also appealed to government to put in place schemes that support small holder farmers as well seeing to it that it protects local producers.
According to Mr Isaac Kashaija government should put in place schemes that support small holder farmers as well protect local producers against cheap imports.
Government had in 2014 imposed an 18 per cent levy on imported rice. However, the move was challenged and the case, which is now at appeal, is yet to be disposed of.