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URA Impounds Harmful Cosmetics, Tobacco Products Worth Millions

Some of the impounded cosmetics

Cosmetics that promise to “brighten” and lighten skin colour are increasingly popular despite their prohibition in Uganda. The sad thing is that the women and some men that have specialized in using them for “extra beauty” completely ignore the risks like health. This is one of the reasons, the URA customs team set out to Nabugabo streets recently and impounded cosmetics and smuggled tobacco products known as shisha.

According to one of the customs officers who was part of the operation, they gathered information for a week about different stores in Nabugabo that were trading expired cosmetics including altering dates of the products.

Cosmetics that contain hydroquinone and mercury are contraband prohibited by law within Uganda, once impounded, they are destroyed to discourage their further importation. Other examples of contraband include drugs, medicines, cigarettes, used computers & refrigerators and polyethene bags below 30micron.

Ibrahim Bbossa, the URA Spokesperson noted that continuous importation of such products not only affects health but also affects the taxes URA collects for improved service delivery.

“There are bad practices we have come across as a revenue mobiliser where people are engaging in illicit trade and contraband products. These products do not pay taxes and it is incumbent on us as a revenue mobiliser to work with other government agencies to take action,” Bbossa affirmed.

He also urged the public to desist from importing or consuming such harmful products as stipulated in the East African Community Customs Management Act (EACCMA). The Act prescribes a penalty of 50% of the value of goods or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both for those caught in violation of the law. All those found culpable according to the Act are also liable to a fine not exceeding seven thousand dollars and their goods forfeited.

For this particular operation, during verification, the following items were intercepted; assorted cosmetics: 122 cartons of olive oil hair spray, 35 cartons of Dove body lotion, 20 cartons of jergen ultra healing body lotion, assorted contrabands (cosmetics, cake flavors and shisha: 6 cartons of fair and white, 37 cartons of Vaseline body lotion, 10 cartons of expired dove body lotion, I carton of expired of runjing hand and body cream plus I carton of Noor natural body lotion, 7 cartons of assorted expired cake flavours and 7 cartons of assorted shisha.

Despite continuous smuggling of contraband items, URA has intensified intelligence guided operations leveraging the use of Non-Intrusive Inspection technology at the border points and field intelligence enforcement operations.

URA is also intensifying tax education awareness, especially on the dangers of smuggling to the individual, the community and the economy.

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