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URA set to sign MOUs with clearing agents

Uganda Revenue Authority is set to sign Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with various clearing agent associations to streamline business.

This development follows a recent meeting between Abel Kagumire, the Commissioner of Customs, and various heads of clearing and forwarding associations, where they discussed this prospect.

Currently, there are three registered clearing agent associations in Uganda, namely, 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), all of which operate differently from URA.

While the East African Community Customs Management Act (EACCMA) recognizes the role of the clearing agent in the tax administration, it does not recognize the associations, thus the need for an MOU.

“Our past engagements have been informal, and we have relied a lot on institutional memory to work together, but with the new direction URA is taking, it is good governance to formalize this relationship, and the MOU offers this,” Alfred Okoya, the Manager of Legal and Bonds, explained.

Charles Ecweru, the Director General of FUCAFF, welcomed the concept of the MOU, stating that it will recognize and align associations.

“This is the beginning of a process that is much bigger than we know. It will provide a protocol—a guiding principle—to our working relationship with the tax administration,” he noted.

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

“Most of our processes are now automated, and we are having issues with the declarations and responses from the clearing agents, so we need you to encourage your members to be part of the training,” he said.

He added that the training is paramount as it encompasses modules on both customs and domestic taxes.

Brenda Wenene, the Acting Assistant Commissioner of Trade, echoed the call, noting that it is crucial for the clearing agents to undergo the CPD trainings because the competency tests (which are conducted online) are no longer effective in measuring their capabilities.

“We need continuous training to update your skills so that when it comes to licensing, we consider the knowledge gained and capabilities shown. This will help us qualify clearing agents to work with our systems,” she said.

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