Parliament on the committee on Tourism, Trade, and Industries have commenced
inquiries into the petition of Kampala Rice Traders' Association over the unfair
Value Added Tax – VAT exempt rice importation.
Last week, the traders, who import rice from Tanzania petitioned Speaker Anita
Among Annet, seeking Parliament to prevail over the discriminative, and
reinstatement of the 18 percent VAT levy.
Led by their Chairperson, Livingstone Ssenyonga, the petitioners said they have
encountered several trading obstacles, compounded by the interruptive
communication from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives denouncing
clearance VAT exempt rice imports until further notice.
While meeting the committee on Monday, Ssenyonga, pointed out that
communication consequently led to several of the traders’ trucks with recalled tax-exempt permits queueing uncleared at the Mutukula border, resulting in
losses arising from cargo carriage charges.
The traders pay to Uganda Revenue Authority-URA at Uganda – Tanzania
Mutukula border up to 220,000 Shillings for every 1,000 metric tonnes of rice
imported from Tanzania, through over 3,000 kilometers distance by road.
//Cue in: “We are humbly.....
Cue out…with this problem,”//
The directive by Harriet Ntabazi, the State Minister of Trade addressed to the
Commissioner, Customs at the Uganda Revenue Authority- URA was contained in a
letter dated 21 April 2022.
therefore, to guide that you cease clearance of VAT exempt rice imports until
further notice excluding 15 companies operating under a court order,” reads
part of the letter.
Ntabazi, says the country imported 41,000 metric tons of rice beyond the
national deficit between January to April this year, thus calling for immediate
remedial interventions to protect the domestic rice sector.
The demand for rice in Uganda, according to Isaac Kashaija, the Chairman Rice
Business Sector Association - RBSA, currently stands at around 380,000 metric
tons per month, with total local production of approximately 180,000 metric
tons per season leaving a deficit of about 200,000 metric tons per month.
Mwine Mpaka, the Mbarara City South MP and Committee Chairperson says that they
have two weeks to conclude their investigations into the grievances raised by
the petitioners as directed by the Speaker.
//Cue in: “The petitioners are.....
Cue out…report to the House,”//
Last week, the affected rice traders paused importations from Tanzania in
protest over the reinstatement of the levy as no single rice truck of rice has
been cleared to enter the country, prompting a kilogram of rice to 4,000 from
In July 2014, a group of 15 rice importing companies sued the URA Commissioner
General seeking to stop the 18 percent VAT levy. They include; Akhcom Limited,
Armour Trading company Ltd, S.W.T Tanners Ltd, Ssunad Ltd, Gloree International
Ltd, and General Agencies Ltd.
The rice companies challenged URA in court, for charging them a tax on rice
imports, despite the EAC protocol barring such taxation. The East African
Customs Union Protocol Article 15 prohibits partner states from imposing duties
on products originating from partner states.
However, the Companies lost the petition in the Commercial Court and appealed
the decision in the High court, which granted them a temporal injunction
stopping the implementation of the directive.
Ochola's journalism career begun from Radio King 90.2 FM in Gulu around 2009, and Radio Rupiny 95.7 Fm under Vision Group in 2012. He also reported for Mighty Fire 91.5 Fm, Kitgum in 2015 before joining Wizarts Foundation in 2017.
He has been reporting for Uganda Radio Network (URN) since 2017 before being posted as Bureau Chief Kitgum, and latr Gulu between 2018 - 2021. Currently, he reports from Parliament.