PUBLISHED ON December 5th, 2014

Ugandans not aware of single customs territory-study

Some Ugandans are losing out on the advantages of a Single Customs Territory (SCT) whose implementation commenced in July this year, due to ignorance.

The SCT was approved by East African Community heads of state last month. It seeks to reduce the cost of business as well as increasing market access among other objectives.

This is according to a study commissioned by ministry of finance sponsored by Trade Mark East Africa on the level of awareness of the Single Customs Territory (SCT).

According to Paul Bagabo, the lead consultant, studies in the month of September to early November 2014 showed that the awareness level among Ugandans is at 41%.

He explained that due to lack of awareness, firms or businesses will not demand for better provisions that can help them access raw materials but also cannot effectively demand for the removal of certain barriers if they are limiting access to markets.

“This implies that Ugandan firms will not enjoy the benefits of SCT and for any policy maker, the low percentage cannot influence policy or design of appropriate interventions to help when the situation goes bad,” Bagabo added.

The outcomes of the analysis showed that most people involved in the process know about the revenue management, either because URA has done good awareness or that people know about paying for import taxes and the procedures involved like bonding, warehousing, among others.

Bagabo however, notes that most people do not know about the processes or provisions to do with free circulation.

“These are the new provisions that need to be clearly understood if they are to benefit Ugandans,” he said.
For example, while people know about Non-Tariff Barriers NTBs, they do not understand what would be NTBs or TBTs and even among ministries departments and agencies, many organizations are not aware about their roles in promoting the SCT.

“The conclusion is that for SCT to have impact, there is need for a critical mass of people to know most of the issues especially on trade facilitation and free circulation of goods so as to benefit from the entire EAC integration,” said Bagabo.

Moses Sabiti, the programes manager at TradeMark Africa (TMA) explained that they funded the study as part of their programmes of enhancing trade environment in the East African region.

In the area of trade enhancement, TMA is funding the implementation of several interventions aimed at contributing to 15% reduction in time spent at the border and reduced to export.

These include ASYCUDA World, Electronic Cargo Tracking System, Authorised Economic Operator and the National Electronic Single Window System.

This has reduced clearance time at customs from 41 to 30 hours, reduced clearance time for Authorized Economic Operators from 4 days to 1 day, Physical escort of cargo has been eliminated due to implementation of automated Electronic Cargo Tracking System and thus reducing time for tracks to transit from Busia/Malaba to any border with Rwanda, DR Congo and South Sudan from 8 days to 2 days, added Sabiti.

Source: New Vision

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.