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URA Busts Illicit Wine Vendors in Busia

On 16th December 2022, The Busia Enforcement Team received intelligence from Brand Guard, a URA partner tipping them about the garages and bars which were involved in selling illicit goods. This prompted an impetus operation which unearthed consolidation centers for smuggled high end spirits, whiskeys and wines.

The busted group was vending wines and spirits without the URA Digital Tax Stamps (DTS) in garages and bars. Simon Ssentale Wasswa, a customs officer in Busia reported that they recovered 90 boxes of assorted wine, spirits and whiskeys from shops and bars in Busia Town.

 In addition, the assorted wines, spirits and whiskeys mostly originate from United Kingdom (UK), Ireland, India, South Africa, Kenya and Uganda. They include Four Cousins, 4th Street, Jameson, John Walker, Singleton, Jack Daniels, Chrome, Richot, Cpt. Morgan, Baileys, Kenyan cane spirit, Famous Grouse, Grants Scotch Whiskey, Pure Heaven, Chamdor, Black and White, Bond7, Oak Cask, Zappa, and Gordons gin among others.

The operation lasted for eleven hours with support from the District Police Commander, Officer in Charge CID, detectives and armed personnel aboard a URA pick-up truck and Police Patrol. Some team members were also deployed at five shops and two famous clubs in Busia business center to monitor and curb the illicit goods.

 It was noted that most of these drinks have affixed DTS from other countries, implying that they were smuggled into the country thereby causing a deficit to URA on import duty and other taxes. Therefore, it was established that the perpetrators are liable to pay the lost taxes amounting to UGX 30M, including penalties and affix DTS before the wines, spirits and whiskeys are released.

Digital Tax Stamps were introduced on 1st Nov 2019 to protect compliant taxpayers (manufacturers and importers) of gazetted products from smugglers and counterfeits. Wines, Spirits and Whisks are among the 13 product categories that are required to affix Digital Stamps.

Section 19B of Tax Procedures Code imposes a penalty of a minimum of Ugx. 50m on a taxpayer who fails to affix a tax stamp on gazetted products.

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