Government is now issuing licenses for the importation of unprocessed rice through the external trade act, a move aimed at finding solutions to the current hunger in some parts of the country.
Uganda’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives now says it has allowed the duty-free import of up to 50,000 metric tonnes of unprocessed rice, commonly known as ‘brown rice’, to boost supplies and check prices amid a fall in local production.
The duty-free imports will be allowed for the initial four months effective last month.
Prior to the tax waiver, importing a metric tonne of rice in Uganda attracted $345 or 75% of the value of import whichever is higher as a tax irrespective of the type of rice—husked, milled, processed or packed ready for distribution.
Amelia Kyambadde, the trade ministry said on her twitter handle on May.16 that the import of brown rice under this scheme shall be within a short period and not re-exported to the regional markets.
The ministry of trade has also set strict guidelines and a maximum price per kilo at Shs3,000 and warned millers against violating the commitment.
“As per import license condition, millers will have to commit to sell the processed rice at Shs3, 000 retail price from their retail outlets,” she said.
“The import license of unprocessed rice will be limited to a specific quantity of up to 5,000 metric tonnes per miller currently operating in Uganda.”
She said her ministry shall issue import licenses to regulate the import of the agreed volume of the unprocessed rice under some conditions.
But the new developments comes at the time rice millers in the country are already importing unprocessed rice in response to the Ministry of Finance’s decision to scrap tax on unprocessed rice on March 30 to tame rising food prices, illustrating how government entities are uncoordinated in implementing new initiatives.