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URA destroys smuggled cigarettes

Uganda Revenue Authority recently destroyed smuggled cigarettes worth Shs 900million, yet another example of how the problem of illicit trade in cigarettes won’t just go away.

Daniel Arorwa, the acting assistant Commissioner in charge of enforcement, said that government loses a lot of money to the illegal trade in cigarettes. He pointed to the neighbouring countries of Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) and Southern Sudan as major markets for the contraband.

“The major entry points for such merchandises are the north western districts of Arua and Nebbi, bordering the DRC, and at the entry points between Uganda and South Sudan,” he said.

Arorwa says that URA will continue to stamp out the trade. He explains that smugglers lie to the custom officials at the border points that the merchandise was in transit, and yet they end up selling it in the country. British American Tobacco Uganda has long complained of illegal cigarettes on the market.

The problem hurt the company’s finances that it decided to relocate its cigarette manufacturing line to Kenya. The company instead decided to concentrate on growing tobacco.

BAT still imports cigarettes into Uganda, although the firm still complains that the illegal cigarettes continue to hurt its sales. URA is worried that illegal smuggling of cigarettes denies it tax revenue from BAT.

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