The automation of Uganda’s customs clearance system has eased cross-border trading in the region and improved the landlocked country’s global ranking.
The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) of Uganda have been rolling out a ‘Managing Compliance Programme’ which has led to increased efficiency in revenue collection.
The reforms include the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Initiative, the Customs Management System of Automated System for Customs Data and the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS).
“Increased efficiency of customs is important... Customs revenues contribute over 50 per cent of Uganda’s tax revenues,” said Mr Moses Sabiiti, TMEA Uganda’s senior programme officer.
He made the remark at a ceremony organised by the URA to fete the TMEA for outstanding logistics work.
The URA commissioner general, Ms Doris Akol, speaking during the same event said that the customs reforms funded by TMEA met the set targets.
Ms Akol said that the support has put URA Customs in the leading position in trade facilitation in the region and equipped URA to further generate more revenue to fund national programmes.
“We appreciate TMEA for being demand-driven, iterative and flexible. These reforms have led to a reduction in customs clearance time from 41 hours in 2011 to less than 24 hours in 2015,” she said.
More than 20 companies that account for more than 80 per cent of customs revenues were cleared as AEO over the course of the programme.
Some of the authorised economic operators include Nice House of Plastics and Jessa Dairies, both of which improved their bottom lines this year in Uganda.
The ECTS has led to a reduction in transit time within Ugandan borders from eight days in 2011 to less than two this year.
This has resulted in 48 per cent increase in customs revenues, according to URA officials.
The electronic cargo tracking system has also led to a reduction in cost of doing business for the private sector; once an electronic seal is attached to a consignment the importer does not have to pay $50 for a physical police escort, said Ms Akol.
“Over 10,000 consignment were tracked using ECTS between May 2014 and June 2015, translating into savings on physical escort fees amounting to over $520,000 per annum. In addition, the ECTS has foiled theft of goods in transit and improved accessibility to the system by the private sector,” said Ms Akol.
Mr Sabiiti said that TMEA is aiming at deepening their partnership with URA and they are working together to roll out the next phase of interventions.
“That will not only increase efficiency of URA but also improve business environment in Uganda with the ultimate aim in attracting investments which will lead to jobs creation and poverty reduction. Some of these interventions include single customs territory and electronic single window,” said Mr Sabiiti.