Election speculation and the festive season pushed up monthly motor vehicle imports to more than 5,000 units, the highest ever recorded.
According to data from Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), a total of 5,188 motor vehicle units were imported in the period ended December.
This was a 22 per cent increase from the 4,012 units that the country had imported in the same period in 2019.
Mr Ian Rumanyika, the URA acting corporate affairs assistant commissioner, said trends have shown that the number of motor vehicle imports shoot up a month before elections, noting the increase could have been a result election speculation and festive buying.
Uganda went to the polls on January 14, with results from the Electoral Commission returning President Museveni, who by the end of the new term would have ruled Uganda for 40 years.
Car imports are mainly second hand, sourced from Asia and some parts of Europe.
However, Mr Francis Kanakulya, the Associated Car Dealers spokesperson, said the increase could have been a result of the arrival of new stock after dealers had depleted exiting stock during and post-lockdown period.
“Covid-19 and the subsequent global lock-down saw many dealers sell off the stock they had. When the lockdown was lifted everybody went into purchase [new units] thus the surge in imports,” he said.
Imports in first half of 2020/21
URA data also indicates that in the first cycle (July-December) in the 2020/21 financial year, a total of 25,495 units were cleared into the country, indicating an 8 per cent increase from the 23,257 units that were cleared in the same cycle in the 2019/20 financial year.
During the period, according to URA, in all months, except November, motor vehicle imports surpassed the number of units imported during the same cycle in the 2019/20 financial year.
During July 2020/21, a total of 4,360 units were imported into the country up from 4,276 units cleared in the same month in the 2019/20 financial year.
It is also equally important to note that in August in the same period under review a total of 4,287 units were cleared up from 3,488 in the same period in the previous year.
During September and October 4,200 and 4,061 units were respectively cleared compared to 3,412 and 3,772 units in the same period during the 2019/20 financial year.
URA data also indicates that during November, only 3,399 units, which were lower than the 4,297 imported during the 2019/20 cycle, were cleared into the country.
Revenues or tax
During the July – December cycle, data shows, URA earned Shs347b in taxes from at least 25,495 units that were cleared in the first half of the 2020/21 financial year.
On average, Uganda, according to the 2019 Ministry of Finance data, spends about Shs2 trillion on importation of motor vehicles.
The Shs2 trillion is part of the Shs28.5 trillion that the country spent on at least 1,500 import categories for the period ended December 2019.
During the period, the report indicates, passenger vehicles took the largest share of the motor vehicle import, costing the country about $182.4m (Shs693b).
Uganda is a net importer of automobile with much of the country’s motor imports sourced from Japan, India, South Africa, UK and Germany.
Motor cycles imports (July-December)
Data from URA indicates that in the first half of the 2020/21 financial year (July to December), Uganda imported a total of 63,878 motor cycle units, which was higher than the 59,655 units that were cleared through URA in the same period in the 2019/20 financial year.