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Wednesday,September 30,2020 14:28 PM

Soldiers removed from URA

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th June 2002 03:00 AM

UPDF soldiers who formed the core of URA’s Revenue Protection Services (RPS) were this week abruptly withdrawn, reports Emmy Allio.

UPDF soldiers who formed the core of URA’s Revenue Protection Services (RPS) were this week abruptly withdrawn, reports Emmy Allio.

UPDF soldiers who formed the core of URA’s Revenue Protection Services (RPS) were this week abruptly withdrawn, reports Emmy Allio. This was just less than a month after Special Revenue Protection Services (SRPS) sacked the entire civilian staff in its ranks. Some of the sacked staff were absorbed by the URA. URA now says it is replacing the soldiers with advanced technology which includes use of scanners to curb smuggling. URA assistant commissioner in-charge of tax education Kiwanuka Kaweesa said the new methods involve scanning goods inside the trucks and placing electronic tags on trucks to monitor their movements. “This will curb dumping of goods and short landing. The use of the military in the URA was a temporary measure to allow the Government to work towards building capacity within URA,” Kaweesa said. He said, “The use of the military in the past was to match circumstances where some tax evaders were more dangerous than simply being tax evaders. They were a disaster to life.” He said UPDF soldiers led by the former RPS commander, Capt. Herbert Mbonye, have left URA. RPS is now temporarily headed by a civilian technical officer pending appointment of an assistant commissioner for revenue protection services. He said the advertisement for the new security post runs this week in The New Vision. Kaweesa said URA now aims at building and sustaining a partnership with the tax-payers. “We now need qualified manpower to completely administer revenue and enforce compliance,” Kaweesa said. He said RPS was part of URA and its role was to enforce compliance and combat tax evasion. Army spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza said, “To my knowledge, RPS has been disbanded. All soldiers who were on RPS are now with SRPS and will receive salary from the army. They will serve on rotational basis.” SRPS spokesman Lt. Bahoku Barigye said the removal of civilian staff was part of the restructuring of the SRPS. SRPS is a revenue collection watchdog led by Brig. Kale Kaihura, who is also the military assistant to President Museveni. “As we absorb the soldiers from URA, we are now restructuring SRPS to perform far better and close loopholes in tax collection,” Barigye said. But sources said the acrimony between URA and SRPS worsened recently with calls in higher government circles on the need to urgently restructure SRPS to increase its efficiency. Sources said SRPS has now embarked on fraud-auditing large companies, which URA had previously declared as being “healthy and sound.” SRPS recently seized smuggled goods worth billions of shillings and exposed URA officials suspected of colluding with tax evaders who under-declare their goods. Recently, SRPS arrested six people over impounded imported sugar worth US$246,000. The six are still on remand in Luzira prison. Sources said some URA officials became unhappy when SRPS began fraud-auditing a company of a Ugandan of Asian origin who owns a chain of hotels. About sh300m in tax may have been lost. A State House source said URA is lenient to its staff implicated in tax scandals and SRPS needed to be strengthened. “Some URA officials see SRPS as a competitor yet it supplements the work of URA,” the source said. Ends

Soldiers removed from URA

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