By Samuel Sanya
Uganda is the first country in East Africa to launch the Authorised Economic Operator programme that reduces clearance time for selected compliant companies.
This will cut businesses costs, improve company profits and deliver lower product prices.
The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has partnered with the Kenya Ports Authority, the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards and the Uganda Police to reduce cargo transit time.
Some companies under the just concluded pilot project are saving as much as sh650,000 per consignment.
Over 40 Ugandan firms have applied to join the programme.
Lower costs and efficiency gains will translate into higher profits and lower product costs for the final consumer.
“The global business environment is changing quickly and we have to reposition ourselves to be one step ahead. The AEO programme will be very successful if it translates into lower prices for the final consumer,” Allen Kagina, the URA boss said at the Serena Hotel.
Spedag Interfreight, one the companies under the project, cut import costs by $60 (about sh115,400) per consignment and cut cargo transit time between Mombasa port and Malaba by seven days.
Mulwana group of companies has realised savings of up to $250 (about sh647,500) on consignments and efficiency gains. Processing time for DHL, an international courier has been cut to two hours from 24 hours.
“The idea is that when you are accredited in Uganda, you enjoy good treatment throughout East Africa. This is not for an elite few but for every tax compliant company,” Richard Kamajugo, the URA commissioner customs noted.
Allen Asiimwe, the Trade Mark East Africa Uganda boss noted that the economy would save up to sh1.5b if just 20 companies joined the programme.
The programme complements the Asycuda World tax system that enables importers, exporters, clearing agents and individuals to submit tax declarations electronically.
Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya are linking their respective tax systems to reduce non-tariff barriers to business in the region.