As the controversy surrounding the currency cargo by BOU and the alleged flouting of procedure continues to raise questions, tax body, URA has issued a statement distancing itself from logistical blunders made in the delivery of the consignment by Bank of Uganda.
This as the Anti-corruption Unit of State House, led by Lt Col Edith Nakalema is, according to Government Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo, probing into the role of BOU, Customs and Civil Aviation Authority in the procurement of the consignment said to have been made irregular.
Nakalema said the investigation had been made at the request of the Central Bank Governor, Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile.
The Governor in a statement on Friday said BOU received a consignment on April 27, and that during the verification process, BOU staff reported an anomaly in the inventory of the expected consignment.
“Therefore I requested the Anti-corruption Unit to investigate the matter. The ACU has started investigations and Bank of Uganda is fully cooperating with the process”.
Mutebile assured the public that “Bank of Uganda is committed to maintaining the integrity of its operations and that the Bank is working with the relevant authorities to bring this matter to its logical conclusion”.
Now, URA has given an account of how the said consignment was cleared on arrival, and has disassociated itself with mistakes made either by BOU or other parties in the cargo.
URA says it was informed by BOU in April of an impending import of Currency and requested to facilitate quick clearance.
“A private chartered plane arrived and as normal practice for sensitive cargo Customs, we facilitated clearance of the currency at the tarmac in presence of BOU Officials, BOU Security, Aviation Security, Police and other security agencies,” reads the statement by Jamil Ssenyonjo, the Acting Head of Corporate Affairs.
The consignment was offloaded, inspected and loaded on BOU vehicles and taken to Kampala under heavy security escort, Ssenyonjo said.
According to URA, the same plane contained other cargo which belonged to various individuals/companies/organizations.
“As per normal customs clearance procedure, this cargo was offloaded into the licensed bonds at the airport and subsequently the owners made customs declarations, paid applicable taxes and Customs physically verified each consignment to ascertain accuracy and consistency with the declaration and released the goods to the owners”.
The tax body further states that each consignment had its individual airway bill and that “Customs was not party to the airline charter arrangements between BOU, the airline and the other owners of the goods”.
“It is not the responsibility of Customs to concern itself in logistical arrangements of importers or exporters. Our duty is to ensure that imported cargo through the airport is received and tallied with the cargo manifest, verified and is cleared in line with the Customs Laws as established under the East African Customs Management Act (EACCMA),” the statement adds.
URA maintains that in clearing the consignment in question, the Customs staff followed the procedures to the dot “and we can account for the cargo cleared fully”.
“URA should not be dragged into logistical contractual failures or mistakes of BOU and their service provider”.
URA says it has provided the details of the information required by the investigators, adding “we are available to offer any clarification if required”.
Meanwhile, a number of Ugandans decry the dramatization of investigations, leakage of information (correct and false) to media and various statements from different government agencies and units on Friday 14 June when the matter unfolded into the public realm.