Jua Kali exhibitors from the East African Community member states have appealed to the government to waive taxes on goods imported into the country for annual mini trade fairs, saying it wascontrary to the East African Community Common Market Protocol.
An exhibitor, James Makore, made the appeal during the closure of the Rubavu mini expo.
“We are still taxed highly even when our products are supposed to be tax-free, and our appeals to the tax authority have been futile,” Makore noted.
He pointed out that Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) officials ignore certificates of origin provided to the exhibitors from their respective ministries of labour.
“During the mini expo in Northern Province, our goods were held for three days and our efforts to talk to RRA were futile as they didn’t listen to us,” added Makore.
However, during exhibitions in other East African Community member states, such taxes on Jua Kali products are non-existent, leaving the traders wondering why Rwanda charges the taxes.
The Executive Secretary of Northern Province, Paul Jabo, observed that there are regional agreements that should protect such exhibitors.
“Value Added Tax is charged on all goods entering into the country, but if they are under Jua Kali, taxes should be exempted. RRA should therefore look into these claims and attend to them to promote regional trade,” said Jabo.
Rubavu mini expo attracted exhibitors from EAC member countries and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“Egypt and Pakistan didn’t show up because of a shipping problem they encountered, hence a delay in the arrival of their goods,” said Godfroid Kamuzinzi, the head of the Private Sector Federation in the Western Province.
He revealed that the goods are scheduled to arrive in the country later this month, pointing out that the federation would help get the traders a market to avoid incurring losses.
The expo attracted over 65,000 visitors, more than double last year’s figure.
A Rwandan exhibitor, Etienne Nsabimana, said the turnout was low compared to other mini trade shows, bemoaning unreliable power supply in the district, which he said, had affected returns..