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URA Intercepts Contraband Cosmetics In Enforcement Operation

Geoffrey Balamaga, URA’s Enforcement Manager

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has intercepted over 10,000 kilograms of illegal cosmetics at Mini Price, Nalukolongo and the Northern Bypass. The cosmetics were disguised under Movit cosmetics products aboard two trucks, registration plates UAU 839E and UBB 993F.
The targeted operation unearthed assorted illegal cosmetics that included, among others: Carolight lightening cream, Diproson, Skin Light, Clairmen lightening cream, Coco pulp, citrolight, Cocoderm lightening cream, white secret lightening, body lotion, body oil and soaps.
These cosmetics are prohibited for importation in Uganda because they contain hydroquinone and mercury chemicals scientifically proven to be one of the leading causes of skin cancer.
The East African Community Customs Management Act (EACCMA)prohibits the importation of such harmful products and protects society from consuming such goods in the region. The Act further 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.
Under Section 199 of the EACCMA, the transporting vessels, in this case, are liable to a fine not exceeding seven thousand dollars, and any vessel and goods in respect of which such offence has been committed shall be liable to forfeiture.
While delivering on its mandate of revenue collection, URA, through the Customs function, has the responsibility to facilitate legitimate trade goods and protect Ugandans from consuming harmful products. Importation of such smuggled illegal products also creates unfair competition on the market because they do not pay taxes which disadvantages traders who deal in safe cosmetics and pay taxes.
The the smuggling of illegal cosmetics has manifested in the areas around Lake Albert, the porous points of Mpondwe, Hoima area, Congo Boarder line in the west, Bunagana, Butogota, and others.
Between June 2020 and June 2021, URA enforcement teams seized 3,492 cartons of assorted contraband cosmetics totaling to 39,748kgs.

URA has intensified operations to curb the smuggling of contraband items by 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,” says Geoffrey Balamaga, URA’s Enforcement Manager.
The seized cosmetics will be destroyed at the owners’ cost, and the trucks will be penalised or forfeited once investigations are complete.

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