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The East African : Sep 12th 2015
34 JOINT MONITORING KRA integrates Ugandan goods tracker URA’s t≥acking system only wo≥ks afte≥ goods f≥om Mombasa ≥each Malaba o≥ Busia By DICTA ASIIMWE Special Correspondent T raders using the Mombasa port to land goods destined for Uganda are hoping to reduce their costs after the Kenya Revenue Authority agreed to integrate a free cargo tracking system into its platform. KRA has over the years rebuffed requests by the Uganda Revenue Authority to have its tracking system integrated into its Simba clearing system. URA has been using a tracking system that only works after goods from Mombasa reach the Malaba or Busia borders. Allen Asiimwe, TradeMark East Africa country director in Uganda, said that KRA has now agreed to integrate the tracking systems. “KRA was here [in Uganda] to assess the functionality of the system,” she said. TradeMark East Africa has re- leased $2 million for the extension of the tracking system to Mombasa; the total amount spent on the project is $7.2 million. KRA’s acceptance of URA’s pro- posal, however, is a loss for Kenyan businesses tracking goods in transit. Since 2010, KRA has been paying private players to track goods in transit. Kassim Omar the national chair- man of the Uganda Clearing Industry and Forwarding Association, said trucks in transit pay $40 to private individuals authorised by KRA to track goods. And that is after the owners of the trucks have paid $1,050 for the installation of the tracking device, and $45 in subscription fees. Ms Asiimwe said that of the one million 20 foot equivalent units Trucks are loaded at the port of Mombasa. Tracking systems for goods in transit for Kenya and Uganda will be integrated. Picture: File that reached Mombasa last year, 70 per cent ended up in Uganda. Dicksons Kateshumbwa the Customs Commissioner at URA, said the biggest beneficiary is the business community as monitoring of trucks by URA means drivers won’t waste time on the road doing personal business. Theft of goods in transit will also be eliminated. Mr Kateshumbwa said the tracking system removes the need for police escorts that Uganda has been using on high risk goods like cigarettes, wines and spirits. Business players had to pay $100 for the escorts. To reduce the cost of doing busi- ness in East Africa, Ms Asiimwe said that the Ministry of Works and Transport signed a $7.8 mil- “KRA was here [in Uganda] to assess the functionality of the system.” TradeMark East Africa country director for Uganda Allen Asiimwe lion contract for the construction of a one-stop border post at Elegu at the Ugandan border with South Sudan. The contract was signed on September 9. TradeMark has in recent years funded the construction of different one-stop border posts across the region with a view to easing the process of clearing goods crossing borders in East Africa. In Uganda, the completed one- stop border posts include one in Malaba, which was handed over in February, one in Busia, which was partially completed and handed over to the Ugandan authorities last month, and one in the Kagitumba/Mirama hills, which will be launched after the heads of state hold a Northern Corridor meeting in Rwanda. Ms Asiimwe said the completion of one-stop border posts will make it possible for all institutions involved in the clearing of goods to have access to the same information and communications technology system, which will in turn ease clearing of goods and reduce the costs of doing business by reducing the time spent on the road. HARMONISATION At a meeting in August, Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner General John Njiraini said that the EAC member states would integrate their Customs systems into one platform in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda to fast-track movement of goods and allow transparency in operations. Currently KRA uses the Simba System, Tanzania uses the Tanzania Customs Information System , and Uganda and Rwanda use Asycuda World. The institutions to be hosted under the one-stop border post include the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the National Bureau of Standards, URA and Immigration. The system, known as the inte- grated border management system (IBMS), will be accessible to all national offices and departments, including the police, that are involved in the clearing of goods at border points. It is expected that using the IBMS will reduce the time trucks spend crossing borders by a third. Single tou≥ist visa awa≥eness campaign sta≥ts By SCOLA KAMAU Special Correspondent KENYA, TANZANIA and Rwanda are funding a campaign to promote the use of the Single Tourist Visa and identity cards for regional travel. The campaign, to be launched by the three countries’ tourism boards, targets immigration officers, travel agencies, airlines and tour operators. The uptake of the Single Tourist Visa and use of IDs for regional travel remain low, blamed on lack of awareness and poor information among travel and tourism, trade and hospitality providers. Uganda is in the process of issuing IDs; its citizens currently use voters’ cards to travel to Kenya and Rwanda. “We expect 10,000 visitors to have taken up the Single Tourist Visa offer,” said Susan Ongaro, the acting CEO of the Kenya Tourism Federation. Launched in February 2014, about 1,560 Single Tourist Visas were issued by end of that year. The Single Tourist Visa costs $100 for all three countries, instead of $50 for each. The findings of a baseline survey on the awareness of the Single Tourist Visa and IDs to facilitate travel, commissioned by KTF, revealed low levels of awareness among travellers. The June 2015 report indicates that 58.1 per cent of travellers to Kenya had neither used nor interacted with someone who had used Single Tourist Visa; and 47 per cent of the travellers showed a lack of familiarity with the existence of the Single Tourist Visa. Immigration officials showed high levels of awareness on Single Tourist Visa use with up to 70.8 per cent having used or interacted with someone who had used Single Tourist Visa. However, 29.2 per cent showed no knowledge on the use. According to the KTF, vigorous and joint marketing of the Single Tourist Visa initiative will attract more users. “This will improve the level of awareness on the existence, cost, countries involved, application process and benefits to travellers,” KTF announced last week while launching the campaign in Kenya. The East Africa Tourism Platform (EATP) will commission similar studies for the three countries by the end of this year, according to regional co-ordinator Carmen Nabigira. The organisation is establishing a portal that will enable the three member states to post destinations of choice for travellers on the Single Tourist Visa. “We are encouraging Burundi and Tanzania to embrace the Single Tourist Visa, and Tanzania and Uganda to fasttrack the ID process,” said Ms Nabigira. A car is assembled at the General Motors East Africa plant in Nairobi. Picture: File The EastAfrican BUSINESS SEPTEMBER 12-18,2015 Impo≥ts c≥ash ca≥ assembly pa≥ty By BERNARD BUSUULWA The EastAfrican EAST AFRICA’S motor vehicle assembly plants are seeking tax incentives to empower the sector and grow market share after years of agony, but questions surrounding the cost of new cars and high taxes levied on the industry have diluted hopes of a turnaround. Used car imports, mainly from Japan, are cheaper than brand new motor vehicles and thus more popular. Annual imports of used vehicles in East Africa have grown to 250,000 units; according to industry data the used car market enjoys 91 per cent market share. Clear entry and exit conditions in the car dealership market, rising competition and wider access to motor vehicle loans offered by commercial banks have boosted demand for used cars in the region. The growth by used car dealers has translated into declining revenues for vehicle assembly plants. While total installed production capacity in the region is estimated at 28,000 vehicles per year, utilised production capacity stands at 32 per cent, reflecting low output and weak demand patterns in local markets. Sales of assembled cars stand at 5,000 units per year, industry sources say. “Opening up the market to used car imports too early killed the motor vehicle assembly plants. Strategic tax incentives targeted at the motor vehicle manufacturing industry should be focused across the value chain, with different players being allocated varying benefits pegged to production volumes so as to drive local production and increase employment opportunities. There is also need to harmonise quality standards for motor vehicles and spare parts in East Africa in order to steer growth,” said Rita Kavashe, the managing director of General Motors East Africa. Players in the vehicle assembly industry say strategic tax incentives offered to the sector could boost output, create more jobs and generate additional taxes.
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