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RRA, other agencies accused of frustrating regional trade

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Kigali: Ugandan businessmen are complaining that the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) is blocking the free flow of good and services in the EAC region in contravention of existing agreements, RNA reports.

The Uganda Manufacturers Association says RRA continues to refuse to recognise the EAC Certificate of Origin particularly on goods originating from Uganda for electro-welded black tubes.

According to the East African Business Council, the regional private sector grouping, RRA is not alone to blame for continuing to block regional trade. Different agencies in all the five EAC countries are on the spot as well.

Export bans instituted by Tanzania and Kenya Ministries of Agriculture have, for instance, denied regional producers access to markets that would otherwise guarantee them higher returns.  

In Tanzania, foreign-registered vehicles involved in transporting cargo pay US$500 to Tanzania Revenue Authority on each entry on top of annual fees of US$600.As for Burundi, goods often undergo tedious clearance procedures from numerous agencies which include immigration, security, anti-corruption, customs department, among others.

Traders in Burundi would like to see Customs Department take up its rightful role of clearing goods.

In efforts to raise revenue, Kenyan local councils are said to have turned to levies on goods transiting through their territory. Most notorious are local council at Kajiado in Kenya, Longido in Tanzania and others in Uganda.

The EA Business Council also says uncoordinated activities among border agencies involved in quality assurance and certification such as bureaus of standards is has resulted in duplication of efforts, causing further delays in clearing of goods.

“We have written to all government institutions and agencies concerned requesting them to abolish or suspend the reported barriers,” said Agatha Nderitu, the Executive Director of East African Business Council. “We want to encourage all businesses to continue reporting such trade barriers.”

Continuous presence of numerous roadblocks and weighbridges which, in most cases, act as conduits for corruption, add to the overall cost of doing business for traders.

“The fact [that] local council fees are negotiable raises questions as to whether it is an official government levy or imposed on traders at the whims of the local authorities,” Nderitu said. “Such fees should be scrapped all together.”


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