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Tuesday,November 20,2018 01:47 AM

URA licenses 134 freight forwarders

By Edward Kayiwa

Added 28th March 2018 03:50 PM

Freight forwarders are entities that organise shipment of goods for individuals or corporations from the manufacturer to a market, customer or final point of distribution.

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Freight forwarders are entities that organise shipment of goods for individuals or corporations from the manufacturer to a market, customer or final point of distribution.

PIC: Dickson Kateshumbwa, URA's commissioner for customs. (File photo by Shamim Saad)

BUSINESS


As the East African Community looks at ways of boosting its intra-regional trade, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has licensed 134 freight forwarders, to facilitate commerce with in the six partner states.
 
This, according to URA commissioner for customs, Dickson Kateshumbwa, brings the number of Ugandan licensed freight forwarders to 1,334, since the program started in 2007.
 
He said the companies were licensed following a practical assessment of their skills for six months, as part of efforts to reform collection of international trade revenues.
 
“As a country, Uganda is a net importer, implying that her reliance on international trade taxes is overwhelmingly high. The region’s intra trade has also not been doing so well because most of the systems and processes are manual, causing unnecessary delays. There are also gaps in the manual systems that we are closing with digitalisation, and as such, we must continuously improve,” he said, on the sidelines of their pass out at the Silver Springs hotel in Bugolobi on Friday.
 
Freight forwarders are entities that organise shipment of goods for individuals or corporations from the manufacturer to a market, customer or final point of distribution.
 
Kateshumbwa said the clearing and forwarding sector plays a critical role in facilitating international trade and is therefore an agent of economic development and a catalyst for the regional integration process.   
 
He said the freight forwarding business is currently growing at a 10% rate per annum, calling for reforms across the region to ensure it remains in the hands of professionals.
 
“The old system was manual but we are now digitalizing. Therefore, clearing agents must continuously seek new knowledge through training because the business is evolving every day,” he said.
 
According to the EAC customs organisation, the East Africa Customs and Freight Forwarding training is mandatory to all customs agents and is jointly implemented by the region’s revenue authorities and their national freight forwarding associations.
 
The East Africa Freight Forwarders Association president, Auni Bhaiji said the program will enable the agents to practice from any of the EAC partner states, which is good for boosting intra-regional trade.
 
He said the new reforms will also cut out brief case companies that have been masquerading and conning clients of colossal amounts of cash.
 
“We are determined to professionalise the industry and create processes that will make the sector prosperous. Reforms such as automation and conducting physical inspection of agent premises are meant to ensure that they (agents) are complying with set standards,” he said.
 
“As the number of professionals in the sector increases, cases of unethical behaviors by clearing and forwarding agents will be greatly reduced. People must learn to embrace change, because we cannot grow sustainably if we don’t continuously improve the system and processes,” he added.
 
The course is offered to individuals already practicing or intending to practice in the clearing and forwarding industry throughout the East African region, who get licensed to operate immediately on graduation.

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