The Government of Uganda has been called to uniformly implement tax exemptions on medical equipment being imported into the country. The call was made on Saturday, by Dr Henry K. Lukwago at the launch of the George William Kiggundu International Hospital (GWKIH), which he built in Kakiri town along Hoima Road, in honor of his 97-year old father.
Dr. Lukwago, a US-based Ugandan physician and businessman revealed at the opening of the four-storied facility, that he had been forced to pay tens of millions of shillings in taxes for the hospital equipment, yet such equipment is exempt from VAT and Import Duty under the East African Community Common External Tariff.
“In order to maintain high-quality service delivery we import most of our medical equipment from USA and India,” said Dr. Lukwago.
“But despite the enormous expenditure incurred and the time invested in it, clearance has always been delayed by URA at Nakawa, due to bureaucracies and other associated technicalities. In addition, URA have continued to levy high taxes on our medical equipment.” He added.
Lukwago noted for instance, that some of their state-of-the-art equipment including several ambulances are currently being held up in URA’s warehouses. He appealed to the government through the Minister of State for Trade, Hon, David Bahati, who was the chief guest at the event to have this matter resolved.
The JWK International Hospital is part of Lukwago’s Angels Mission Home Care Services based in the US.
Dr Andrew Katumba, the hospital director said once fully equipped and expanded in the near future, GWKIH will be the country’s main treatment center, especially for renal-related complications.
So far, he said, they are installing 10 dialysis machines in the hospital which will be able to handle 40 kidney failure patients a day.
The Chief Guest, Minister Bahati who also represented the Minister in his speech, promised to handle all the concerns raised by Dr Lukwago
“Government does not levy taxes on medical equipment,” clarified the minister.
“Just now I have talked to the Commissioner of Customs Abel Kagumire and I am going to the Commissioner General, to ensure that the equipment that is stuck with them is released immediately because it is needed here,” said the minister.
Hon Bahati also thanked Dr Lukwago for giving back to the community that raised him.
“We have toured this facility and I have seen what you have done and I have to say that we sincerely thank you for giving back to your community. We have so many people in the diaspora who work and make a lot of money but forget where they come from. That is why we want to thank you for giving back to your people,” he said
At the event, Lukwago also launched a 4-day medical camp where locals will get access to free health services.