We won’t back off despite traders’ strike, says URA

Police patrols the streets as most shops remain closed in downtown Kampala yesterday. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA

Kampala- Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has said it will not change its position on prosecuting traders who evade taxes despite a two-day strike by Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita) that started yesterday.

Speaking to Daily Monitor, URA spokesperson Sarah Banage said: “No one will back off; it is the position of the institution to prosecute traders who are found to be evading taxes. They are striking because we have dug in on smugglers,” said Ms Banage.

Business in downtown Kampala yesterday came to a standstill after traders, under their Kacita umbrella body, closed their shops protesting URA’s directive to arrest those who smuggle goods.

Initially, those found with untaxed goods were fined until October when the tax body resolved to have them arrested instead.

Kacita chairman Everest Kayondo said they were still in negotiations to find a way of saving innocent traders from fines only to receive a memo informing them of the new development.

“When traders buy goods, they leave the receipts with the shippers who later package and deliver the goods. But the problem is that sometimes the shippers include those goods that have not been submitted to URA for taxing.

“During inspection, URA discovers the mismatch between the goods submitted for taxation and those imported and then penalises the trader yet the problem originates from the shippers,” Mr Kayondo told Daily Monitor yesterday.
He said ever since the directive was issued, traders have asked to meet the URA Commissioner General (CG) in vain.
“This is the last resort, we have been communicating with the CG but she refused to meet us, we wanted to find a way of resolving the matter without hurting anyone,” Said Mr Kayondo.

Most shops downtown Kampala were under lock and key as traders stood on the verandahs of their shops while others played indoor games outside the arcades.

However, other traders were furious at Kacita, accusing the association of representing interests of few traders who want to evade taxes.

“These people are on their own mission, they do not help us when we have problems affecting the ordinary trader, they only come to close the shops when those who import containers have issues,” said Ms Fatuma Nabunya, a salon operator at energy centre in downtown Kampala.

Ms Nabunya said the timing of the strike is bad. “This is a crucial season for us to make money and save for our children’s school fees and pay rent on time,” she said.

By press time, the traders were in meeting with URA commissioner general Doris Akol and Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura who was brokering the meeting.

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