By Precious Delilah
The High Court in Kampala has ruled that the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) was not in contempt of its earlier orders regarding the enforcement of tax levied against three gold refinery and exporting companies.
Court in its verdict delivered on October 20 instead held that the tax body had taken some steps towards compliance of its earlier orders. The ruling of the court arose after three companies dealing in gold exports sued URA on allegations of being in contempt of earlier court orders.
The firms; Bullion Refinery Ltd, Aurnish Trading Ltd and Metal Testing Ltd, had asked Justice Wamala to hold the tax body liable of being in contempt of earlier court orders issued out on April 4.
The trio gold export firms had argued that URA, despite the earlier court orders, continued to issue assessments to them, compelling them to pay the export levy.
However, Justice Wamala reasoned that the evidence and circumstances before him, pointed to the fact that the tax body took some steps towards compliance with the court order.
“As I have stated above, the order did not require the Authority to abdicate their role as a regulator of the export business,”he said.
“It was, therefore, in their right and power to put in place a process by which they could clear the export of processed gold at the same time without having to make the exporters pay the relevant levy in the meantime. They attempted to do so but did not get the cooperation of the applicants,” ruled Justice Wamala.
He added that these circumstances are not consistent with an intention to disobey a court order.
“On the above premises, therefore, the applicants have failed to establish to the satisfaction of the court that the respondents acted in contempt of the subject court order. The application accordingly fails and is dismissed with costs to the respondents,”he ruled.
Mr Simon Esunget,the URA manager of the customs department at Entebbe, in his affidavit, argued that pursuant to the regulations, they computed the tax arrears for all gold exported from July 1, 2021, until March 1, 2023, and issued demand notices to the respective gold exporters, including the three gold companies.
The tax official further stated that some of the companies expressed readiness to comply and started making partial payments on their tax arrears and were paying until the trio gold export companies challenged the legal ty of the statutory instrument and obtained a court order.