Tax compliant firms from the east African region will receive special treatment from partner states’ customs authorities while clearing goods, it has been announced.
At least 13 firms from Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda were granted the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) privilege to enjoy fast clearance of their goods through simplified procedures and reduced inspection.
Dickson Kateshumbwa, the commissioner for customs at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), told reporters at Serena hotel last week that this will make the “region competitive in trade facilitation” and that more firms will be added gradually.
“We need to protect the integrity of this programme by doing what [chosen firms] you are required to.”
The firms are: Intra-speed, Traders Ltd, and Roba general merchants from Rwanda; Toyata Burundi, Brarudi, and Sodetra from Burundi; Nice house of plastics, Unifreight cargo handling, and Spedag Interfreight from Uganda; Haco Tiger industries Ltd, and Freight In-time co. Ltd from Kenya; Said Salim Bakhresa and Superstar forwarder from Tanzania.
To be accredited as an AEO, a company applies to regional customs association and is subjected to rigorous checks – audits of its income returns and tax returns. If it is found that it has been tax compliant and that it can be trusted, it then enjoys the benefits.
Since 2013, Uganda Revenue Authority has also been recognizing local companies found to be tax compliant. Describing it as “a celebration of tax compliance,” URA said it was an incentive to pull more firms into being sincere in declaring their tax obligations. About 20 companies in Uganda have been recognized.
John Bosco Rusagara, the director for Intra-Speed Rwanda, said the beneficiary firms can save on the costs of operation.
Companies that achieve that status gain by saving time which would otherwise have been spent at customs waiting to declare. Tanzania Commissioner for Customs Tiagi Kabisi said AEO is the highest status in customs and “firms are expected to operate responsibly”