ZRA Officials fuelling smuggling

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 07:57:55 +0000


IT is unacceptable for the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) customs officials to collude with unscrupulous persons in smuggling of goods and tax evasion schemes.

The ZRA Commissioner General Kingsley Chanda is categorical in his observation regarding the triangular cartels that have been formed at many border posts involving ZRA customs officers, clearing agents and clients.

The existence of these cartels have resulted in Government losing billions of Kwachas on a daily basis through rampant smuggling and tax evasion.

Actually, it is worrisome that the ZRA officers who are entrusted with the sensitive responsibility of revenue collection have instead chosen to get involved in such an illicit business of swindling government.

Little wonder smuggling has been a thorn in the flesh despite the ban Government imposed on the export of maize and maize products still being in force and the Zambia National Services (ZNS) officers deployed to border posts to enforce it.

Why have the customs officers allegedly involved in corrupt practices not been reported to the Anti-Corruption Commission for prosecution? Are customs officers above the law?

Surely, something is amiss with the cadre of customs officers currently manning many border posts in Zambia.

And this is what has contributed to making the situation at our entry and exit points porous, hence leading to government losing out on revenue through deliberate under valuation of goods and goods crossing the borders without paying duty at all.

On this premise, it explains why government has not been able to get a fair share of taxes from the mining sector as mineral resources such as copper are exported to other countries without paying relevant taxes.

Definitely, such weak monitoring mechanisms at our border posts by the ZRA customs officers cannot be allowed to continue.

It is crucially vital for ZRA management to seriously consider tightening the loose ends to dismantle the existing cartels perpetrating fraudulent activities at our border posts.

ZRA customs officers, like any other citizen of Zambia, are not above the law, they are subject to the same set of laws applicable to individuals with such corrupt character.

We think that for the ZRA boss to have unequivocally and publicly stated that his customs officers were actually the ones perpetrating smuggling and tax evasion, he must have done thorough investigations.

Invariably, we challenge the ZRA management to take appropriate action against such crooked individuals so that Government does not continue to lose revenue which is meant for sustaining government operations.

We are aware of Government’s decision to conduct a forensic audit on all the mining firms to maximise revenue collection to the national coffers. Are ZRA officials equal to this daunting task?

If customs officers can be bribed, let alone be in forefront altering documents to perpetuate fraud at border posts, what will stop such officers from compromising the process of auditing the mining firms?

In our view, it is important for Government to take the auditing of the mining firms very seriously by engaging highly qualified forensic accountants to look into how tax compliant the mining companies have been.

And we urge all relevant authorities to support efforts by the ZRA Commissioner General and his team in this noble fight against smuggling and tax evasion as it is meant to benefit the nation at large.


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