West Nile traders push for lower customs duty on imported honey

Honey traders in Arua district have asked URA to lower the customs value of imported honey, which they say is too high. Late last year, URA standardized the value of imported honey to USD 0.8 per kg. This was an increase from the USD 0.07 per kg that the traders were accustomed to.

Customs values are used to determine the taxes for imported goods and to ensure fair treatment of taxes across the board. Arua is home to original honey, with some of it originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Speaking at a meeting between URA and members of the Honey & Bee Traders Association in Arua, Obeta Moses, the Chairperson of the Business Community, explained that there was a consensus between them and URA to have the value of a 20-liter jerrycan of honey at UGX 5000 back in 2021.

“We are not party to the new increment of USD O.8 per Kg. Most of these traders are women with various challenges, and harmonizing the relationship will greatly boost the business industry,” he added.

He urged the URA to engage all stakeholders to avoid contradictions.

James Mulhondi, the in-charge Lia Customs explained that the USD 0.07 per kg of crude honey had been set to fight smuggling, but due to tax changes and the need to harmonize the valuation of honey across the country, there was a shift to USD 0.8 per kg.

“This has, however, made traders abandon the Lia-Congo border route, thus affecting revenue collection, yet the market is still flooded with honey,” Mulhondi observed.

He called for a joint meeting to devise workable solutions.

In his remarks, Ajiga Mansur, the in-charge of enforcement in Arua, urged the traders to cooperate with the URA and provide supporting documents for imported goods to avoid penalties.

“We listen when you approach us, and you also need to help us identify the smugglers of honey with confidence,” Ajiga emphasized.

His call was echoed by Lomuria Thomas, the supervisor of the Stakeholder Intervention Project in the region, who called on the traders to not cover up for smugglers.

“All leaders should make deliberate efforts to share the right information on the different products in the region. Do not cover up smugglers because the law may catch up with them.”

In order to address the issue of smuggling in the district, stakeholders called for a review of the tax policy on the importation of honey and managing smugglers with a particular focus on fuel, cigarettes, honey and other products.

By Clare Sanyu, additional Reporting by Winiefred Akinyi

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