UGANDA- The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has recently acquired a cutting-edge machine to enhance the testing of imported rice to determine its country of origin. 

This state-of-the-art machine, provided by the National Agricultural Research Organization, is set to play a pivotal role in ensuring compliance with import regulations and curbing potential revenue losses.

The acquisition of this advanced testing machine comes at a critical juncture when trucks carrying rice imports from Tanzania have faced detentions at the Mutukula border. 

The suspicions revolve around the possible importation of mixed rice from various sources, which can result in misdeclaration and financial losses.

As per the East African Community Common External Tariff (EAC-CET), rice importation from outside the East African Community (EAC) is subject to a substantial 75% import duty, while rice sourced from within the EAC enjoys a 0% import duty.

The URA’s move to acquire this testing machine is part of its commitment to addressing these issues effectively, ensuring the swift clearance of legitimate imports, and preventing revenue leakage. 

This development also underscores the importance of accurate determination of the origin of imported rice, a crucial aspect of trade regulation.

During a recent engagement with rice importers held at the URA headquarters in Nakawa, Commissioner General John Musinguzi reiterated the URA’s dedication to creating a level playing field and promoting fair competition. 

He stressed the URA’s vigilance concerning rice from outside the East African community, ensuring that import regulations are followed meticulously.

Musinguzi revealed that, following comprehensive tests conducted by the URA’s Tax Investigations department, 85% of the previously detained trucks at Mutukula had been released. These tests were designed to ascertain the origin of the rice shipments, and the majority were confirmed to be from Tanzania.

We conducted extensive research to determine the rice’s source, and I am pleased to announce that 85% of these shipments have been released. However, tests on the remaining 15% are still ongoing due to the presence of mixed rice,” Musinguzi explained. 

He assured that further testing would be conducted to make an informed decision on the remaining shipments.

Musinguzi also issued a stern warning to traders, cautioning against engaging in any form of corruption and emphasizing that such behavior hinders trade and leads to revenue losses. 

He urged officers to only unnecessarily prolong the holding of containers with a valid reason or a documented explanation for doing so.

Commissioner of Customs Abel Kagumire informed traders that rice lacking the stamp from the Tanzania Bureau of Standards would be subject to the appropriate taxes. Additionally, traders without licenses permitting them to export rice from Tanzania would be liable for the applicable taxes.

The Uganda Revenue Authority’s acquisition of this advanced rice testing machine marks a significant step in ensuring fair trade practices, revenue protection, and compliance with import regulations. 

As the URA continues to address issues related to imported rice, it underlines its dedication to fostering a transparent and competitive trade environment.