By Eddie Ssejjoba.
Trade and Industry minister, Amelia Kyambadde has directed Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to dialogue with traders in order to reach an understanding over anew tax levied, with a view to clear over 70 containers stranded at the Nakawa customs depot.
During a stormy meeting on Tuesday at Nana Arcade in downtown Kampala over what the plastic shoes and slippers importers from Kikuubo, Nana Arcade and Premier Commercial Centre termed ‘abnormal and prohibitive’ tax increments, the traders pleaded that goods already in the country be taxed using the previous levies.
The meeting was attended by URA, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) officials.
This meeting followed appeals and complaints from the traders who say they have failed to clear their goods after the Customs department slammed 100% increment on all their cargo ‘without prior warning’.
The traders demanded for an immediate release of the containers basing on the old tax rates including those in transit.
They mainly import from China and Thailand.
The Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde tours plastic shoe shops at Nana Arcade in Kampala.Photo by Eddie Ssejjoba
The group’s chairman, Michael Ssemwogerere told the minister that they had already incurred losses for the period the containers had been lying at Nakawa and asked the negotiations be based on future imports.
He was supported by the KACITA spokesperson, Issa Ssekitto who said the move to impose 100% increment would force many out of business.
Kyambadde tasked the URA officials to always promote dialogue and find amicable solutions to issues affecting traders.
“There should always be cordial working relationship between tax collectors and the traders because we get revenue from them that sustain the economy, we should not create any gap or breakdown in negotiations,” she said.
Erinathan Matsiko, a customs official who represented the commissioner for customs agreed with the minister to again meet representatives of the traders for a way forward in regard to the release of the cargo at Nakawa.
He however complained that the standoff followed some importers under declaring the value of their cargo, which he said had raised queries from government auditors.
The minister who was moved by one of the traders who knelt down and almost shade tears as she appealed for clemency, gave Friday as deadline for sorting out the matter.
She later toured shops and assured the traders of government support.