There is a proposal to the Board of the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI) to streamline its membership structure in tandem with the Companies Act and the imminent shift to the E-Single Window online platform. It will also ease issuing of Certificates of Origin for those involved in the export sector.
The proposed categories will be Platinum, Diamond, Gold, Silver and Bronze. These will replace Associate, Gold, Silver and Ordinary membership. However Martin Okumu, the Business Development Manager at UNCCI, said the criteria is not based on monetary terms, but the number of people employed.
A Single Window offers exporters considerable convenience because all regulatory requirements can be processed online and limits the need to physically come to the Chamber offices.
“The first three categories will have direct access to the new platform using their membership code or number and process their Certificates of Origin (COs) for free. Currently, we charge UGX10,000 for printing costs and other expenses that UNCCI incurs, but technically it should be done cheaply or no cost at all,” Okumu told 256BN.
Okumu said the incoming system, which is being funded by the Paris-based United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) in Geneva, will cut costs and save time for exporters.
A Platinum member is expected to employ 200 people and above while one that has 150 workers and above, qualifies for Diamond. To qualify for Gold, the company must employ at least a 100 people.
UNCCI handles non-preferential exports destined for countries beyond the region while the preferential kind that fall under the East African Community, are handled by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). URA is already using an online version and UNCCI personnel are being trained in how to administer it.
With the proposed shift, business people will submit applications electronically. It also enables the approving authorities to approve and certify Certificate of Origin applications online with easy retrieval of supporting documents. An approved CO can be transmitted immediately to recipients such as the customs authorities, banks and overseas buyers.