URA moves to professionalise clearing and forwarding firms

Monday December 4 2017

Katuna: The town that flourished from smuggling

The border point of Uganda and Rwnda at Katuna. Penalty. There are 350 licensed clearing and forwarding companies in the country. About 30, have since beginning of the year, been penalised due to conducting business in an unprofessional manner. File photo 



The customs department of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has subjected hundreds of clearing and forwarding professionals to practical assessment of their skills.
Those performing below per risk having their liecences withdrawn.
In an interview with Daily Monitor, URA commissioner customs Dicksons Kateshumbwa said this is part of the reforms being instituted in the department charged with collection and facilitation of international trade revenues.
As a country, Uganda is a net importer, implying that her reliance on international trade taxes is overwhelmingly high.
Mr Kateshumbwa said cases regarding unprofessional conduct, mistakes and unethical behaviours by clearing and forwarding fraternity have been rampant, compelling the custom departments to swing into action.
He said: “Since last year, we have embarked on a series of action aimed at reforming the clearing and forwarding fraternity, especially those we licence to work with us.”
He added: “As an institution (URA) we have a duty to act professionally. And we cannot do that if some of the key people we work with such as the clearing and forwarding professionals have no proper grasps of what they are supposed to do. This is why we shall continue to assess their skills.”
“We decided that before being licensed as a clearing and forwarding agent we must know your address, inspect your IT equipment and have company employees who will be interfacing with customs assessed—tested.”
Already about 1,200 were assessed about a fortnight ago at Makerere University and the results of the assessment were instant.
Most offences by clearing firms are in form of mis-declaration, under valuation and even outright smuggling.
In the fiscal year 2017/18, URA was given a net revenue target of Shs15 trillion with customs as a department tasked to, according to Mr Kateshumbwa, collect at least Shs22 billion in revenue daily.
During the period of July to September 2017, enforcement interventions raised 2,040 seizures in both customs gazetted and non-gazetted areas. These seizures yielded revenue recovery of Shs12.7 billion.
The top risk items during the period of July to September 2017 include assorted items, motor vehicles, rice, garments, slot machines, foot wear, electrical, hardware items, textiles, beauty products motor vehicle spares and chewing gum.