Inter-state buses being used to smuggle - URA

Mr Nkwasire displays some of the smuggled goods at a briefing in Nakawa, Kampala yesterday. PHOTO | courtesy 

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URA says that it is putting in place serious focus on inter-state buses to control the increasing rate of smuggling that has been growing in the last three years. 

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has said inter-state buses, which transport passengers from Uganda to neighbouring countries have become smuggling avenues. 
In details shared with the media yesterday, Mr Julius Nkwasire, the URA assistant commissioner enforcement, noted serious focus will be put on such buses to control the increasing rate of smuggling that has been growing in the last three years. 
“One of the strategies we are adopting is to intercept inter-state buses, which move from Uganda and the surrounding neighbouring countries in the region because they are being] used as smuggling avenues,’ he said, noting that in the just concluded financial year (2021/2022), the URA enforcement division recovered a total of Shs82b, of which 58 percent, which is equivalent to more than Shs53b, came from goods that were undeclared while Shs8b was from penalties and fines on smugglers.
Outright smuggling of assortment of goods, he said, had recorded an increase especially among electronics and household goods.
For instance, he noted there was an increase in smuggling of phone batteries, cables and drinks –under the assorted category. 
Other goods among the 10 top smuggled commodities, URA noted, included garments, motor vehicle spare-parts, textiles materials, shoes, hardware, electricals, scholastic materials, used items and electronics, respectively.
Mr Nkwasire also indicated that just weeks into the start of the 2022/23 financial year, URA had already recovered Shs2b from goods that had been undeclared. 
URA has in the last five years deployed a number of measures, among which include technology and voluntary declaration of non-compliance, among others to improve tax compliance. 
It has also introduced serious penalties, among which payment of Shs110m for any business or individual that provide false tax information with the aim of dodging due tax obligations.
All these measures seek to improve tax compliance as well as widening the tax base, which currently is limited to a just a few Ugandans.   URA data indicates that only one million people in Uganda are paying taxes yet a number of people are engaged in income generating activities. 

Top 10 most smuggled items

Item               

Seizures

Taxes

Fines

Total

Assorted 

552   

Shs11.2b

Shs13.3b 

Shs24.5b

Garments           

147  

Shs3.6b 

Shs6.7b

Shs10.4b

MV spare parts

169        

Shs4.8b

Shs2.2b 

Shs7.06b

Textile      
 

98 

Shs2.5b 

Shs2.4b

Shs4.9b  

Shoes    

19  

Shs69.9m 

Shs1.6b

Shs1.75b

Hardware

14      

Shs483m

Shs156.8m

Shs639m

Electricals

10  

Shs174m   

Shs401.2m

Scholastic        

4

Shs19m 

Shs415.1m

Shs434.5m

Used Items  

10

Shs45m  

Shs374m

Shs420m

Electronics

8

Shs381m

Shs20.9m

Shs402m

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