URA to formalise relationship with clearing agents

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is poised to sign Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with several clearing agent associations to streamline operations.

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is poised to sign Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with several clearing agent associations to streamline operations.

This move follows a recent meeting between Abel Kagumire, the Commissioner of Customs, and leaders from various clearing and forwarding associations, where the potential for these agreements was discussed.

Uganda currently has three registered clearing agent associations: the Uganda Clearing Industry and Forwarding Association (UCIFA), the Federation of Uganda Customs Agents and Freight Forwarders (FUCAFF), and the Uganda Freight Forwarders Association (UFA).

Despite their different operational methods from URA, these associations play a crucial role in tax administration, as recognised by the East African Community Customs Management Act (EACCMA), though the Act does not formally acknowledge the associations themselves, highlighting the need for MoUs.

Alfred Okoya, the Manager of Legal and Bonds, explained, “Our past engagements have been informal, and we have relied heavily on institutional memory to collaborate. However, with URA’s new direction, formalising this relationship through MoUs is a step towards good governance.”

Charles Ecweru, the Director General of FUCAFF, expressed support for the MoUs, stating, “This marks the beginning of a larger process. It will establish a protocol—a guiding principle—for our working relationship with the tax administration.”

During the meeting, Kagumire urged clearing agents to participate in the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training offered by URA to enhance their role in the supply chain.

“Many of our processes are now automated, and we face issues with declarations and responses from clearing agents. Therefore, it is essential for your members to engage in this training,” he emphasised.

Brenda Wenene, the Acting Assistant Commissioner of Trade, reiterated this call, noting that CPD training is crucial as online competency tests no longer effectively measure the agents' capabilities.

“Continuous training is necessary to update your skills. When it comes to licensing, we will consider the knowledge gained and capabilities demonstrated through this training, ensuring that clearing agents are qualified to work with our systems,” she said.

Kagumire urged clearing agents to participate in the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training.

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