URA accuses dealers of hoarding fuel
What you need to know:
- Mr Solomon Muyita, the Ministry of Energy spokesperson, disputed URA’s claim that the fuel was enough, saying the disruption in the supply chain was due to a two-week strike by truck drivers, which had affected deliveries.
- The tax authority says the fuel imported at the beginning of this month was enough despite the disruption in the supply chain at the border.
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has attributed the recent shortage of fuel in the country to unscrupulous dealers who had hoarded it to cheat unsuspecting consumers.
Officials from the tax body last week told legislators on the Parliamentary Committee of Trade, Industry, Tourism and Cooperatives that the fuel that has been imported into the country this month is enough to run the economy, and there should be no shortages.
“There is a possibility that unscrupulous dealers in the fuel trade have hoarded it to cheat the consumers. We cleared more Uganda-bound fuel in January compared to what we brought in the last six months and as a tax body, we feel this shortage is caused by some unscrupulous traders in the sector,” Mr Julius Nkwasire Mponoka, the assistant commissioner-in-charge of enforcement at URA, said.
He said between January 1 and 18, 2,233 fuel tankers, each carrying a capacity of 35,000 litres of fuel, were cleared at the Busia border, while 1,260 litres had been cleared at Malaba border.
Mr Nkwasire said whereas these figures did not include the fuel that might have been brought in by water, the capacity averaged a total of 6.7 million litres per day against the country’s consumption, which stood at 6.5 million litres per day.
“The fuel we have brought despite the disruption on the supply routes in Busia and Malaba borders and the fuel we bring in each day was enough to sustain the local market demand and I think someone is hiding this fuel for their own selfish reasons,” he added.
Mr Gafabusa Richard Muhumuza, the Bwamba County MP, asked the officials whether the figures were right to which Mr Nkwasire responded in the affirmative.
The 20-member parliamentary committee was at the Busia border to investigate the cause of the backlog of tankers which had led to disruptions in the fuel supply chain, leading to skyrocketing prices.
Fuel prices in some parts of the country had reached Shs12,000 per litre.
Mr Mpaka Mwine, the committee chairperson, said the findings from their interaction will help them get a clear picture of how much fuel was coming into the country compared to previous months and whether the supplies were sufficient to run the economy.
According to URA figures, the performance in imports of fuel into the country through Busia border, which was a main supply route, had greatly improved in January compared to the previous months.
In June, a total of 3,233 fuel tankers were cleared, July had 3,244, August 3,250, September 3,384, October 3,361, November 3,533 , December 3,670, while by January 18 a total of 2,233 had been cleared.
According to the figures accessed by Daily Monitor, fuel imports this month averaged 124 fuel tankers per day at the Busia border, while Malaba border stood at 70 fuel tankers.
Mr Nkwasire said the lowest fuel tankers cleared this month was on January 12 when 37 were brought, which he attributed to the breakage of the scanners at the Busia border, while the highest was on January 18 which had 200 cleared.
However, Mr Francis Mwijukye, the Buhweju MP, demanded specifics, saying: “Your explanation that fuel was being hoarded is lacking; we are interested in knowing who is doing so.”
Mr Nkwasire, however, said the tax body had records of all companies that were importing fuel, including the quantities and promised to provide the details to the committee.
Mr Mpaka said they had received a list of all the fuel importers into the country and would summon them to appear before the committee to explain whether they were not hoarding the fuel.
“Companies found hoarding the fuel will be recommended to have their licenses revoked,” he said.
Energy disagrees with URA on fuel supply
Mr Solomon Muyita, the Ministry of Energy spokesperson, disputed URA’s claim that the fuel was enough, saying the disruption in the supply chain was due to a two-week strike by truck drivers, which had affected deliveries. “If URA is saying that the fuel in the country is enough, they should provide reliable statistics. That is when we are going to believe them because we had 12 days when the country did not receive any fuel supplies while the consumption continued,” Mr Muyita said. Truck drivers at Malaba border went on strike protesting against the mandatory Covid-19 testing and $30 (Shs108,000) charge for tests.
The protest caused long queues of trucks, with some stretching more than 90 kilometres - from Malaba border to Eldoret in Kenya.