Business community questions Customs Union

KIGALI - Some sections of the business community have said that they are yet to enjoy the benefits of the Customs Union, which came into effect on July 1, 2010.In an interview with The new Times, Stephen Muthiani, the Deputy Manager of Nakumatt Rwanda, one of the largest supermarket chain in the region, said that there has been no change.

KIGALI - Some sections of the business community have said that they are yet to enjoy the benefits of the Customs Union, which came into effect on July 1, 2010.

In an interview with The new Times, Stephen Muthiani, the Deputy Manager of Nakumatt Rwanda, one of the largest supermarket chain in the region, said that there has been no change.

“So far, I have not seen anything like change. The authorities are saying we are going to do this and that, but nothing changes. It is really the same,” Muthiani said.

However, Alice Kantarama, a trade expert with the Private Sector Federation (PSF) said that business has been booming since the Customs Union came into effect, as a result of reduction in bureaucracy and the elimination of some of the taxes levied on goods manufactured in the region.

“Traders and the business community are enjoying tax deduction on goods manufactured by the regional industries. For instance, taxes on imported sugar should decrease from 60% to 25%.”

Innocent Niyibizi, who owns and operates a business in Kigali’s Central Business District, commonly known as ‘Quartier Matheus” said that he has instead noticed an increment in taxes for some of the goods.

“They are hiking taxes. In general, the Union has improved nothing,” Niyibizi alleged.

Under the Customs Union, import duty was waived from all goods manufactured in the region.

RRA’s Deputy Commissioner General and Commissioner for customs, Eugene Torero, dismissed the claims of tax increment and pointed out that taxes have instead been reduced. 

“I am surprised to hear that,” Torero said. “One partner state cannot increase taxes unless there is a common understanding between all the members.”
For Nakumatt, there is hope that soon they will enjoy the benefits that come with the Customs Union.

“They say this is going to take time, we are still waiting for that time. We hope everything will change with time,” Muthiani said.

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