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Businessman Charged For Using Illegal Digital Tax Stamps

Charged: Hamuza Kirunda

Hamuza Kirunda, a businessman in Musita Trading Centre, Mayuge District, has been charged with two counts of acquiring digital tax stamps without goods and authorisation from Uganda Revenue Authority. He committed the offences between March and April 2022.
The Anti-Corruption Court Presiding Magistrate, Herbert Asiimwe, slapped the charge recently and if found guilty, Kirunda will be liable to a maximum of 10 years in jail or a fine of Ugx 10 million or both.
It is alleged that the 33-year-old Kirunda is part of a racket in the eastern region who have notoriously frustrated the implementation of Digital Tracking Solution (DTS) initiative by acquiring stamps through illegal means.
URA spokesperson Ibrahim Bbossa revealed that Kirunda and others still at large were packaging cement in branded Tororo Cement bags and applying stamps from used old bags. Kirunda would later sell the cement at a cheaper price of Ugx 25,000 at a time when an authentic bag of cement goes for an average of Ugx 35,000 on the market.
“Kirunda was caught in possession of 300 bags of cement and 354 empty packaging waiting to be filled with cement. It is not clear where Kirunda gets the cement but investigations into this are still ongoing,” Bbossa said.
The magistrate granted him a non- cash bail of Ugx 500,000 and his sureties were required to pay UGX4M. Kirunda is expected to appear again in Court on the 26 th May, 2022.
Digital tax stamps are unique labels with security features and codes that are applied on packages of gazetted products to prevent counterfeiting the products as well as shielding legitimate businesses from unfair competition.
The stamps enable track and trace capabilities right from production/importation through the supply chain to ensure that tax on the product has been paid. The system has also helped manufacturers to have organized records of their production.
Working closely with Uganda National Bureau of Standards, URA rolled out the use of DTS in November 2019 starting with soda, water, beer wines, spirits and cigarettes as the maiden products gazetted to bear the stamps. Starting 2022, cement, sugar, cooking oil, fruit and vegetable juices, all other fermented, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages were added on the list of gazetted products.

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