8 January 2013

Uganda: URA Suspends Clearing Agents Over Licences

Uganda Revenue Authority has suspended clearing agents' operations at the Malaba border over their failure to renew their annual licenses.

The suspension has led to build-up of trucks, with fears that the traffic jam could extend several miles into Kenya. Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) instituted similar punitive measures starting January 1 but the problem had by yesterday been solved with clearing agents allowed to access KRA's system.

However, Kenyan agents complained that they were idle since their counterparts in Uganda have not renewed their licenses.

Transporters and importers have fallen victim because their goods cannot be cleared. This has caused a delay in delivering goods to their intended destinations.

Loss of time automatically translates into loss of money, they said. Clearing agents in Uganda cannot lodge any documents into the URA system until they comply with the mandatory requirement.

"The Authority's head office in Kampala has blocked access to the system. This has made it difficult for any transaction to be instituted," a URA source in Malaba told The Star, a Nairobi-based newspaper.

Over 80% of clearing firms have not complied with the requirement, thus paralysing operations, which had began to pick up after the Christmas and New Year holidays.

There are over 1,000 clearing firms in Uganda but over 800 had by yesterday not renewed their licences.

Analysts said the problem could hurt regional trade if no solution was reached by URA quickly.

Some importers are using other companies which have complied with the requirements to clear their goods but they are few and cannot get everyone cleared

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