As the Members of Parliament tour of URA Customs Border Stations came to a close Sunday 08.04.18 at the URA Arua Customs office, the URA Customs Commissioner, Dicksons Kateshumbwa announced a 3 months sensitization programme lined up for the Westnile region.
These remarks were made during a joint press conference between URA and Members of Parliament of the Finance and Economic Planning Committee.
The MPs have been on a tour of border stations. Busia and Malaba One Stop Border Posts(OSBPs) were visited in the East while Afoji , Elegu, Lia and Vurra border points were traversed in the North on a fact finding mission.
While smuggling has considerably gone down in Uganda , there are still many cases of smuggling in the West Nile mainly due to the porous nature of the border in some places most notably the stretch between Vurra and Lia border post between Uganda and DR Congo/South Sudan.
“Motorcycles, sugar, rice and kitenge are the most smuggled items in this region,” noted Dicksons Kateshumbwa. Through working more closely with the local leadership here, we shall be able to achieve complete behavioural change on the part of the community against smuggling.
Hon. Henry Musasizi(MP. Rubanda East) , the Committee chairman observed that there is need to have the population in the region sensitized about the danger in smuggling to the Ugandan economy.
Hon. Asiku Elias (MP Koboko North) urged communities and the leadership of Westnile to work with URA and embrace a culture of paying taxes. He encouraged the public to shun smuggling because it dents the image of West Nile region.
In addition the MP of Kilak North and member of the Committee, Hon. Anthony Akol, also the shadow Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development paid tribute to the year on year growth of revenue collection. He appealed to his constituents to comply with taxes to further reduce Uganda’s reliance on debts.
“For the people of West Nile, I want to request. For every penny that we get from abroad, it is our grandchildren that will have to pay. Let us pay our taxes, desist from Smuggling and fund our own budget”, said Hon. Akol.
About the operational challenges faced by URA staff at the border stations namely inadequate accomodation, under staffing and poor infrastructure in some places, the Committee Chairperson Hon. Henry Musasizi affirmed the commitment of the Finance committee specifically and parliament generally to help work with URA to solve these challenges faster.