The Uganda Clearing Industry and Forwarding Association (UCIFA) is receiving more complaints about unscrupulous individuals identifying themselves as clearing agents while they were not.
This has been revealed by Al-Hajj Jaffer Abdallah, the National Chairman of the Association after he was sworn in for the second time together with his new team of nine members of the board.
He cautioned that many masqueraders have made themselves too available and effective to the business community that it’s hard for the association to know who the real importers are, but hastened to add that clearing agents should only be those that are licensed by the Uganda Revenue Authority.
As the association, Jaffar says they embarked on a training programme that will root out fakes which is why they are planning to operationalize the institute for clearing and forwarding agents. Currently, they have started a partnership with the Management Training and Advisory Centre of the Ministry of Trade to bridge the gap in professional development.
He says before 2017 when the idea of the institute was explored, there hasn’t been capacity building for forwarders and clearing agents even as the association came into being as early as 1971.
On his part, Mike Mukula, the patron of the association urged government to reserve some of the jobs that they will be awarded for the recently signed USD 3.5 billion oil pipeline deal with Tanzania and oil companies to local clearing agents and forwarders. This project that is expected to begin this year is anticipated to be juicy considering that the East African Crude Oil Project Pipeline (EACOPP) could be the longest electrically heated crude oil pipeline in the world, at 1,400 kilometres (850 miles).
The forwarders however said currently they haven’t been involved in any policy formulation and continue to be sidelined even as they have played a key part in increasing the country’s revenue.
Responding to these concerns, Geoffrey Okaka, an official from the customs department of URA said the tax body has also noted and is finding solutions for the wide outcry about characters who camouflage as clearing agents.