KAMPALA – The multifaceted role of a customs office spans from ensuring compliance with legal standards for imported goods to safeguarding national security, public health, and the economy. With persistent challenges like smuggling and tax evasion, leveraging cutting-edge technology for customs inspections is no longer an option but a necessity.
Recently, Uganda Revenue Authority – URA intercepted an undeclared Mitsubishi Canter at Makasa Customs Office after the client presented a Bill of Lading with 5 units of Canter trucks. However, the Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) scanner equipment showed six.
“The NII image indicated that the consignment contained 6 units yet the declaration had only 5. As a result, an alert was sent to the enforcement team to stop and check the consignment,” noted Ibrahim Bbossa, the URA spokesperson. Subsequent verification by the Makasa Customs enforcement team revealed an undeclared Mitsubishi Canter.
In accordance with Sections 200 and 203 of the EACMMA, an importer found to be in the act of concealing goods faces up to five years in prison or a fine equal to half of the dutiable worth of the items in question. This is the rationale for Duplex Forwarders who was the declarant for Rose Nabuuma who neither included the canter in the Bill of Lading nor declared it for customs duties and taxes.
In the fiscal year 2022/23, customs enforcement operations across the country, recovered a total of UGX 132.77 billion through 14,187 seizures. Of these, 42.61% was under-declaration, in addition to mis-description/false documentation at 11.70%, outright smuggling, in addition at 7.11%, undervaluation at 4.54%, misclassification at 1.12 per cent, concealment at 0.60 per cent, and other offenses at 32.96 per cent.
The interception of the undeclared Mitsubishi Canter at Makasa Customs Office is not an isolated incident but serves as a poignant reminder of the complex challenges facing global customs operations. Investment in technologies like NII isn’t just a modern convenience but a vital necessity that is essential in locating hidden objects and stopping illegal activity because of its sophisticated imaging and analytic capabilities.
URA urges clients to remain vigilant and comply with procedures that have been created to facilitated trade. In addition, the taxman will further sophisticate process automation with the latest technology with continuous commitment to safeguarding national interests and borders.