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URA Closes Four Companies over Digital Stamps

KAMPALA

Uganda Revenue Authority on Monday closed premises of four manufacturers in Kampala for continuing to produce products without putting digital stamps on them.

The companies are; Amron International, Prime Care International, Cloud Water world, and John Distillers. All the companies have been closed as the tax body investigates further.

Digital tax stamps are physical paper stamp which are attached to goods or their packaging and contain security features and codes to prevent counterfeiting, tamper-proof features.

The Kawempe-based Amron International, which makes Marley Pineapple Wine and Corona Pineapple wine was found to have never registered for stamps at all.

Prime Care International, manufacturers of Choice Waragi, Star Pineapple Wine, White Cane Spirit and Commando Premium Waragi was found bypassing the Digital Tracking Solution by not activating the ordered stamps.

“Unstamped products were found in their stockroom and their premises were consequently sealed off pending further investigation,” said URA.

Cloud Water World, manufacturers of Cloud Water were found to have registered for DTS but unfortunately continued to produce without ordering for stamps.

John Distillers, located in Masanafu and manufacturers of X5 Gin and Camp Fire Gin were found to have affixed with stamps, but their management team could not account for the variance in stamps. URA says this is “an indicator of under declaration and or falsified production volumes and sales.” Their premises were also sealed off too.

Beverages and spirits manufacturers were among the first products chosen to have stamps from January this year. This is because they are high risk products. The digital stamps are expected to give the tax body the true number of how much products are sold in the country.

Once a manufacturer is found with unstamped goods at his place of production, they are charged Shs 50m or two times the tax value of the unstamped goods produced, whichever is higher.

Digital stamps are meant to help URA catch tax cheats.

 
 

Locked Up at Work; The Tale of a 50-Year-Old Market Vendor

 
 
 

KAMPALA

50-year-old Amina Kareem has spent her nights in the market for close to two months now, as she struggles to make ends meet, amid the ongoing lockdown.

Her decision was in response to a call by President Yoweri Museveni, to reduce contact with family members, as a measure to control the spread of coronavirus disease COVID-19, while sustaining the food supply chain. But Amina says she never expected it to be the beginning of her most challenging experience in life.

On this day, Amina went to work like any other day. However, what started as a normal day has turned into months of lengthy shifts in the market since the ban on public transport on March 25. Amina used to commute from Kito Village, in Kira Sub county, Wakiso district to come to Nakawa Market on a daily basis.

But the ban on public transport meant that she had no means of travelling back and forth, yet she also could not walk the distance which would take her about three and a half hours.

"The first night I decided to try it out because the thought of walking was scary. I had planned on leaving the next day. But I failed. I have never gone back," Amina said, while describing the first night as a nightmare decked with moments of coldness, fear and agony.

At the market, Amina sleeps at the doorway of her stall, up on a makeshift bed made out of dry banana leaves heaped about three inches off the ground. There, she lays a small mat and a woolen scarf and covers herself with a blanket.

From the comfort of her home, her day work day normally starts at 7 a.m. In the market, she wakes up as early as 5 a.m. to beat the long queues at the bathrooms. The market has an eight stance water toilet that serves as both a toilet and bathroom. Amina explains that for the first five days of her stay, she was too embarrassed to go to the bathroom. She used a damp towel to clean up.

Being stuck in the market has not kept Amina away from the trials of a bread earner. Even in the market, she looks after her ten-year-old grandchild who she is nursing a toothache. She says, she had no other choice but to drag the child to the market.

Amina told PRIME RADIO that the struggle she is going through is worth it, because it helps her support her family of 16 people.

The lockdown has not just reduced the working day by half but has also reduced the number of people willing to walk to the markets to buy fruits and other produce. Amina says that although the earning is less, it is worth every night of uncomfortable sleep.

Before the lockdown, Amina used to sell bananas worth 200,000 Shillings on a good day. Now, with few people going to markets because of restrictions on transport, Amina describes her earnings as bittersweet.

Four stalls away from Amina is Harriet Kirabo a mother of a three-month old baby who re-echoes what Amina says. "We sleep here because the option of not working is worse than being bitten my mosquito nets. We have people to feed,” Kirabo says.

At the moment half of Amina's stock is ripe. Every other day, the bananas continue to ripen. Some are already turning brown. This, she says, is a loss that will end up being inedible and thrown away as part of garbage because her customers are stuck in their homes.

This lockdown has opened Amina up to experiencing new firsts. In addition to sleeping out of her house, for the first time since she got married, Amina is not able to prepare Iftar or the pre-dawn meal for her family as they go through the holy month of Ramadan.

"My husband called me to ask whether I was on my way home to prepare him a meal. Telling him I would not be able to was very hard for me but I had to. Until I can go home, everyone will have to cater for themselves now. That has never happened before," she said.

There are 400 other vendors going through an ordeal in Nakawa market. In Kampala, over 3,000 vendors share her story. While many of them, count the days until the end of the lockdown, scientists and economists warn that life will not be the same after lockdowns are lifted.

 
 

Drama as Priest in Arua is Forcefully Evicted

 
 
 

ARUA

Fr. Lazarus Ejoyi has forcefully been evicted from the priest’s residence at Ediofe Cathedral in Arua district. Over 20 members of the parish pastoral council stormed Ediofe Cathedral Parish and Bishop’s Chancery this morning and started throwing out the priest’s property.

They broke the lock to Fr. Ejoyi’s quarters around 8:00am under the supervision of the Bishop of Arua Diocese Sabino Ocan and started removing his property including several jerricans of wine, which Fr. Ejoyi has been brewing in one of the three rooms he occupied to earn a living.

There was a heated exchange between Fr. Ejoyi and the parish pastoral council members who accused him of using his residence to brew local wine. Left without any option, Fr. Ejoyi accepted to board the truck carrying his property and demanded to be dropped at Nile University Campus in Ombaci where he has been lecturing since his suspension more than three years ago.

Bishop Sabino directed the parish pastoral council members to escort Fr. Ejoyi to wherever he wanted to go. He also urged the pastoral councilors to bear him witness on his accusations against Fr. Ejoyi for failure to comply with his directives.

Information obtained by our reporter shows that Fr. Ejoyi was scheduled to testify in his assault case against the Vicar General, Kasto Adeti at Arua Magistrates Court. However, both parties failed to show up because of the surprise eviction.

A number of Christians rushed to witness the eviction drama at Ediofe as plain clothed security personnel disguised as Christians kept guard around the priest’s residence and the Chancery.

According to sources in Ediofe Parish, the Bishop and Vicar General were advised to use the Parish Pastoral Council, which has powers to administer the affairs of the parish to evict Fr. Ejoyi after they were let down by a Court Bailiff whom they paid Shillings 150,000 more than a year ago.

The eviction of Fr. Ejoyi case a week after he was assaulted by the Vicar General, Kasto Adeti for alleged failed to leave and insults directed at himself and the Bishop. Fr. Ejoyi, who sustained a broken arm, opened an assault case against Adeti at Arua Central Police station. Adeti later confessed to our reporter that he act out of emotion when he attacked Fr. Ejoyi.

 
 

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