Uganda Revenue Authority has collected over ShsI billion in taxes from cement imports from Kenya since July 2023. This revelation was made by Paul Karatunga, the supervisor of customs at the Uganda Revenue Authority while clarifying allegations that Kenyan cement is entering the Ugandan market without paying the required taxes.
Karatunga noted that while the vice of smuggling is still rampant, not all of the cement that comes from Kenya via the eastern region is smuggled.
“There is cement that comes to Uganda through the customs-gazetted points like Lwakhakha, Swam River, and Malaba borders, and all duties are paid before it is allowed entry on the local market,” said Karatunga.
He clarified that importers must provide a certificate of origin and that Kenya, as a member of the East African Community, enjoys tariff treatment based on rules of origin.
Furthermore, Karatunga hinted that the pricing differences between cement in Kenya and Uganda is a contributing factor in the smuggling of cement.
“The information we are getting is that in Kenya, cement costs about Kshs 800 per bag, the equivalent of about 19,200 Ugandan shillings. The tax on a bag of cement is UGX4,200 per bag for a trader with preferential treatment who has a certificate of origin presented to a customs-gazetted area,” he explained.
Karatunga emphasized that the URA has increased field operations, intelligence-guided focused operations, and routine surveillance to combat the vice of cement smuggling. As a result, 164.3 metric tons of smuggled cement were intercepted in October and November.