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National Monitoring Committees on NTBs
Operationalization of Border Committees at Kagitumba, Cyanika and Gatuna border posts
 
Posted on : 02 - Nov - 2015 - Viewed : 890 times
JPEG - 124.2 ko

Men at work on the Gatuna Rwandan side of the border where drainage system is set to be improved as construction of One Stop Border Post is ongoing.

During the technical bilateral meeting between Rwanda and Uganda held in March 2013 and June 2014, Joint Border Committees were formed at Kagitumba, Gatuna and Cyanika border posts. The establishment of the committees was aimed at identifying and addressing NTBs and other trade related issues of cross border nature. The majority of institutions operating at these borders were put together to form border committees under the coordination of the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration and local cross border trade cooperatives. The committees were invited to meet at least quarterly to address cross border trade issues.

For monitoring purpose, a field visit was undertaken from 19th to 23rd at Kagitumba, Cyanika and Gatuna border posts to evaluate the progress of the border committees in fulfilling their assignment.

Specifically, the objectives of the field visit were :
• To assess the progress of Kagitumba, Cyanika and Gatuna border committees in addressing cross border trade issues and NTBs at the border

• To evaluate the change in the Border Committees occurred due to relocation of staff and proceed with new replacement needed to strengthen the existing committees

• Identify challenges that the Border Committees are facing and provide advisory services on how they should be tackled

• Identify other cross border trade issues and NTBs linked to border crossing
Meeting with border committees’ members including key institutions operating at the border posts such as Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration, Rwanda Revenue Authority, the National Police, the Cross Border Trade Cooperatives were held to assess the progress made.

During these meetings the following was noted among other things :
• Generally, the established border committees have not been operational. However issues related to cross border trade and NTBs are discussed in the weekly border management committee that meets every Tuesday at Kagitumba and Cyanika and every Monday at Gatuna.

• Private sector is rarely invited in the meeting as most of cross border trade cooperatives are inactive and do not request for a meeting as well as bringing on the table issues for discussion. Most of trade issues are rather collected and raised by customs officials.

• Several changes in the composition of the border committees occurred due to frequent relocation of border staff especially border managers of RRA and Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration. This has an impact on smooth operation and continuity of the border committees.

• The Simplified Trade Regime (STR) is partially applied by RRA at the borders. Under the Simplified Trade Regime, goods not above US$ 2000 are cleared by a clearing agent using a simplified certificate of origin while goods above the mentioned threshold are cleared using an ordinary certificate of origin. The only benefit for small cross border traders under STR is that they can collect certificates of origin at the borders and don’t have to pay for them. The ordinary certificate of origin costs 3,000 Frw. However, all other customs processes are the same and equally applied to all traders, bill or small. The only exception is on goods that are not above 500,000 Rwf which can be cleared without need for a clearing agent as stipulated by RRA.

• An issue of splitting consignment in small parts has been reported by customs officers. This is becoming a serious concern by traders trying to evade payment of duties to customs.

• There is no list of common traded goods between Rwanda and Uganda which is used by customs in Rwanda under the simplified trade regime to ease the movement of cross border traders.

The above challenges indicate that there is still a lot to do in improving the operations of the established border committees as well as facilitating small scale cross border traders. The concerned stakeholders should consider establishing a trade information desk at the 3 border posts to increase awareness on trade related initiatives and opportunities. This will further help to address information gap from cross border traders.

Fast tracking the construction of cross border markets at different border posts to reduce issue of smuggling and splitting consignment that is done to evade from paying customs duties should be another priority.

MINICOM, RRA, RCA and cross border trade cooperatives should work together to organize and conduct awareness campaigns and trainings on customs duties and the simplified trade regime. Also, PSF needs to play an active role and get involved in lively operations of the border committees. Specifically, the border committees need to engage private sector and organize a monthly meeting with them to discuss cross border trade related issues.

 
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