URA impounds wine, spirits with forged digital stamps

Monday February 22 2021
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Dealing with forgeries: It is not clear how URA intends to deal with the increasing forgeries but at the moment traders and manufacturers that are found with goods such as wines that bear forged stamps are fined not less than Shs50m, imprisoned or both. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES.

By Philip Wafula
By David Awori

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) officials in Busia District have impounded a consignment of wine and spirits worth millions of shillings bearing forged digital tax stamps.

The impounded goods were found at an Asian-owned wine and spirits store in Sofia, Busia Town, following an operation. 

Mr Arnold Turyakira, the acting URA manager eastern region, said the intelligence-led operation was part of a wider crackdown against illicit trade in the country.
Various brands of the wine and spirits go for between Shs130,000 and Shs150,000 per bottle.

“It’s true we have impounded a huge consignment of wines and spirits from one of the stores in Busia Town with forged URA stamps and have taken the owner of the business for statement recording,” Mr Turyakira said, adding that they had used an equipment called Gizmo to detect the fake stamps from the genuine ones, while other goods had no stamp at all.

In 2019, URA started implementing the digital tax stamps tracking solutions systems on six products, including bottled water, beer, soda, wines, cigarettes and spirits. 

The move sought to eliminate under-declaration of taxes among importers and manufacturers as we as curbing the sale of substandard goods. 


The stamp, URA said recently, will also be implemented on cement among other products before the end of this year. 

Mr Turyakira said they had started investigating the source of the forged stamps, noting that in the past few months, there had been growth in cases of the digital stamps forgery. 
 He, however, could not divulge details whether the racket behind the forgeries was operating in the country or in neighboring countries.

The racket, according to sources, operates an organised syndicate involving unscrupulous manufacturers and importers with and outside Uganda. 

URA said the presence of goods with forged stamps or non-stamped goods was dangerous to the economy and consumers. 

Mr Godfrey Wafula, a trader at the Busia border, said whereas the operation was good, it should target manufacturers because they are the ones allegedly behind the forgeries.