By: Tanbull256 tax desk.
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has revealed a collection of 85 billion shillings in the last four months under the Authorized Economic Operators- AEO program. During the four-month period, the 57 AEOs carried out 447 import transactions with partners in China, signifying the program’s impact on international trade. According to the figure is highly promising, emphasizing the significance of the AEO program in enhancing revenue operations.
According to the World Customs Organisation, an AEO is a party involved in the international movement of goods that has been approved by, or on behalf of, a national Customs administration as complying with WCO or equivalent supply chain security standards. To qualify for AEO status, companies must meet specific criteria related to customs compliance, financial stability, and security standards.
Speaking at the 10th-anniversary celebration of the AEO program at the Sheraton Hotel on Wednesday, Sarah Chelangat, the Commissioner of Domestic Taxes, underscored the pivotal role AEOs play in customs revenue collection, accounting for over 40 percent of international trade operations, which also contributes a lot to the total revenues collected.
Chelangat urged more enterprises to join the AEO program, highlighting that Uganda currently boasts 129 national AEOs. “Over the last decade, URA has been hard to enhance the AEO program and make it more attractive for the traders. Can you encourage more traders to be part of this program?” Chelangat asked the AEO business owners. Chelangat highlighted Uganda’s mutual recognition agreements with China and South Africa, offering favorable treatment to Ugandan AEOs in these markets. She added that URA has also improved the benefits provided to AEOs and harnessed digitalization and automation to enhance customer service.
Abel Kagumire, the URA Commissioner for Customs, revealed that AEOs account for up to 33 percent of total customs revenue collection. “This is done without any hustle or running up and down to chase after them, these people are so dear to us.” He said.
He said that the AEO’s contribution to tax revenue has steadily increased over the years, coinciding with the growth in the number of businesses involved.
Anna Nambooze from Trade Mark Africa, the organization that facilitates the AEO program, stressed the initiative’s role in expediting import and export processes. He said that AEOs operate not only within Uganda but also collaborate with regional partners, ensuring a smooth operation.
Betty Kiguli, a representative from the Mulwana Group of Companies, lauded the benefits of self-tax management and quick shipment processing, as the most outstanding benefits from the program. However, she cautioned the URA audit department to uphold their standards, reassuring them of the AEOs’ commitment to compliance.
James Malinzi, the URA Assistant Commissioner for Audit, expressed concern about the lack of exports through the AEO. He reveals that all 447 billion Shillings worth of transactions were imported, with no export transactions recorded within the same period, highlighting the need to expand export transactions through AEOs.