Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is insisting on re-evaluating Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu’s car that was reportedly donated to him by supporters of his political party, the National Unity Platform (NUP).
Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine announced last weekend his local and foreign-based supporters had bought him a bulletproof car – a Toyota Land Cruiser V8, through a fundraiser they embarked on after the security forces fired at him as he went to Jinja for his presidential campaigns last year.
His announcement came after URA had already cleared, registered and released the car to him. The tax body now says that the car was cleared in error because its details were misrepresented and consequently, the car was under-valued.
“An inquiry has been conducted into the circumstances under which motor vehicle Toyota Land Cruiser Registration Number UBJ 667F was declared to customs vide reference UGCWH C54 dated January 12, 2021, was cleared and subsequently registered,” reads a letter signed by URA Commissioner for Customs, Abel Kagumire.
The URA says that their findings reveal that among other things, the fact that it was an armoured car was not declared during the assessment.
“The above-mentioned motor vehicle was declared to customs as an ordinary motor vehicle, instead of an armoured motor vehicle, the implication of which is that the vehicle was under-valued at 157,925,502/=,” Kagumire wrote.
This would mean the tax of about Shs 88 million that Bobi Wine was charged was less than what he would have paid, hence the decision to recall the car.
“Under Section 236 (d) of the East African Community Customs Management Act, 2004, as amended, you are required to voluntarily bring the above-mentioned motor vehicle to the URA Nakawa inland port to undergo a re-verification process not later than 3.00 pm of February 26, 2021, without fail,” Kagumire further wrote in his February 26 letter to Bobi Wine.
The car that has become an issue of attention was reportedly brought into the country on November 5, 2020, by a Kenyan national, Fauz Khalid, bearing license registration plate number KCY 550X. Khalid handed it over to clearing firm Real-Time Global Cargo Handlers, and after it was inspected by URA officials, it was cleared and registered on January 12.
Unhappy with the steps URA is taking, Bobi Wine wrote back to Kagumire through his lawyer, Anthony Wameli, telling the tax collectors that they are acting outside the law.
“Your decision to recall our client’s motor vehicle is not only arbitrary and without legal basis, but it is also a threat to our client’s right to property and privacy. This is, therefore, to demand that you immediately withdraw your decision to recall our client’s motor vehicle, as long as such a decision is arbitrary and unsupported by any law,” Wameli’s letter to URA reads in part.
URA acting assistant commissioner for public and corporate affairs, Ian Rumanyika says there’s nothing new or extraordinary that URA is doing by recalling the car.
“We are currently investigating the issue under our usual practices. Re-Verification is a service that we offer. It is a normal process,” Rumanyika said.
An internet search shows that a new Toyota Land-Cruiser Vehicle costs from $85,000 (Shs 310 million), while an armoured one goes for between S$395,000 and $450,000 (Shs 1.4 billion to Shs 1.65 billion), depending on the features.
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