In Summary
  • Finance State Minister, David Bahati, in his defence on the move, said government had committed to pay the taxes on behalf of the companies, but got stuck because the money to pay the taxes was unavailable.

Uganda Revenue Authority has given all traders and companies with un-cleared goods only
30 days to pay taxes and fines or lose the goods through public auction.

The new URA directive is contained in a Wednesday statement issued by Ms Patience Tumusiime Rubagumya, the acting Commissioner Customs Department. She asked companies and individuals with un-customed goods to pay the taxes, fees, penalties, fines and other charges within 30 days.

“All the goods that remain un-cleared after 30 days of first publication of this notice shall be disposed-off by way of public auction,” Ms Rubagumya said.
“The auction process has been automated”

She added: “Pursuant to Section 42 (1) East African Community Customs Management Act, 2004, the commissioner customs requests owners with goods that have exceeded their statutory clearance and warehousing period (un-customed goods) to clear the same within 30 days from the date of first publication of this Public Notice by paying all the requisite taxes, fees, penalties, fines and charges that will have accrued thereon,” the URA statement reads in part.

According to URA officials, all terms and conditions of sale, the user guide and auction items can be accessed on this link: singlewindow.go.ug/auction. Online viewing will however remain open from June 10 to 14 and the bidding process will run from June 17 to June 21.

The warehousing period of goods according to URA is 270 days except for goods in duty free shops, new motor vehicles, wines and spirits which are warehoused for a maximum of two (2) years. The clearing agent must submit genuine and authentic documentation relating to a transaction to avoid delays and penalties.

Warehousing of goods
This is a process where goods that are supposed to pay customs taxes/duties and have not yet paid are deposited into a bonded warehouse.

This however, involves management of goods into, within and exiting the bonded warehouse. It includes dutiable goods on which the full duties due have not been paid, and any goods, whether dutiable or not which are imported, exported or transferred.

Background
The URA directive comes after Parliament last week wrote off taxes meant to be paid by selected investors to the tune of over Shs500 billion.

This was contained in the Tax Procedures Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019, whose object was among other things to write off all unpaid taxes by government as of June 30, 2019.

Finance State Minister, David Bahati, in his defence on the move, said government had committed to pay the taxes on behalf of the companies, but got stuck because the money to pay the taxes was unavailable.