Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has clarified that oxygen gas cylinders are tax exempt as the country continues to grapple with limited supply of the cylinders.
Over the last days, Uganda has been hit with deficit of oxygen gas cylinders as the number of critically ill Covid-19 patients in need of oxygen continues to shoot up.
While addressing the nation on 18th June, 2021 on measures to contain the second wave of deadly Coronavirus, President Yoweri Museveni revealed that the daily oxygen consumption stood at 3,000 cylinders per day, where each cylinder is 6,800 liters.
The current challenge of oxygen gas has led to birth of confusing narratives on media platforms with many suggesting that the deficit is arising out of high taxes charged on importing the gas cylinders.
However, in a statement dated 21st June 2021, URA denied such reports and said oxygen gas cylinders are tax exempt.
“Medical oxygen is essential medicine in the treatment of COVID-19 and oxygen gas cylinders/bottles or tanks are a known method used for the conveyance of oxygen to patients. They are described as pressure vessels used to store gases above atmospheric pressure. High-pressure oxygen gas cylinders are also often called bottles. Oxygen gas cylinders are tax exempt,” Ian Rumanyika, the acting Assistant Commissioner, Public and Corporate Affairs
The tax body noted that the exemption of all taxes on oxygen gas cylinders is in line with 5th Schedule of the East African Community Customs Management Act to cater for COVID-19 supplies which includes the lifesaving cylinders.
URA further explained that supplies for diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and management of epidemics, pandemics and health hazards as recommended by the competent authority in the ministry responsible for health are all tax free.
“Based on the aforementioned, oxygen gas cylinders are considered an essential tool used in diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and management of the COVID-19 pandemic and are therefore exempted from all taxes in line with the 5th Schedule of the East African Community Customs Management Act.”
URA’s clarification is on the backdrop of warning by Museveni where he said Uganda is destined to face a nearly 9 -fold increase in the overall national oxygen requirement in the coming days.
He said the daily oxygen consumption would rise to 25,800 cylinders per day in one month, unless the country changes the course.