Tax collection body, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has warned against importation of gazetted prohibited items into the country placing emphasis on the Supermatch brand of cigarettes which slip into the Uganda from neighbouring Kenya.
Abel Kagumire, the Manager Enforcement in the URA Customs Department told the press at a media breakfast on Tuesday that government banned the importation of the cigarette brand in order to protect local manufacturers who produce the same brand.
“We have BAT and LTC in Uganda which produce Supermatch and the ingredients are the same. But just because Eastern Uganda is close to the factory in Kenya, dealers find it easy to bring in that one,” Kagumire said.
“I have also been told that there’s a slight difference in cost. The Kenyan brand is Ush 50 less than the Ugandan brands,” he added.
He said that under the East African Community (EAC) Protocol, every member state depending on its interests comes up with a list of restricted items or goods in order to protect nascent industries.
Other items that are currently barred from entering the Ugandan territory include; fire arms, explosives, cosmetics that contain Mercury and Lead, undersized fishing nets, counterfeit products, used electronics as well as used under garments like bras.
He however cited demand as one of the challenges encountered by URA in countering some of the prohibited goods.
“We say we don’t want used laptops, fridges and other electronics because they are destroying the ozone layer but we keep finding them in Katwe. We don’t know how they get there. The problem is – many Ugandans want to use second hand stuff,” he said.
While URA has stepped up its border scrutiny through the newly introduced Single Window System where all relevant agencies are integrated, Uganda’s porous borders still impede the process.
On the exports side, Uganda has prohibited iron and steel scrap, hides and skins as well as unprocessed tobacco from leaving the country.
Kagumire explained that by prohibiting such exports, government is trying to encourage value addition of items that are produced in Uganda. Goods on which value is added are tax free for export, according to URA.