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Zimra officials abuse electronic cargo system

by Staff reporter
30 Aug 2017 at 06:34hrs | Views
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials are prejudicing Government of money running into millions of dollars in potential revenue by failing to implement laid down procedures on transit cargo, the authority's board chairman Mrs Willia Bonyongwe said yesterday.

Zimra introduced the Electronic Cargo Tracking System and several other measures to curb corruption and reduce fraud. However, Mrs Bonyongwe said it emerged that some Zimra officials at the border post were still violating the practice, in the process prejudicing the Government of millions of dollars. There are reports that cargo cleared as on transit ends up being offloaded in Zimbabwe, a practice that has seen Government failing to collect import duty.

Said Mrs Bonyongwe; "We introduced the electronic cargo system, but we still have problems with our own officers not sealing some of the trucks as they should do, but we are enforcing that," she said at an Ernst and Young tax seminar held in Harare. "For instance in Beitbridge they can seal only nine, (and yet) they have enough seals. As a results) the board is very strict on that and taking disciplinary action against management."

She, however, said Forbes Border Post had performed better with a 67 percent reduction in transit traffic fraud recorded. She said this could be a sign that a significant amount of transit traffic that passed through the border prior the cargo tracking system was fraudulent.

The electronic cargo tracking system requires that all trucks, inclusive of tankers, break-bulk and containerised cargo in transit through Zimbabwe be sealed at the time of entry to facilitate tracking while transiting through the country.

"Zimra encourages all transporters to ensure that trucks transiting through Zimbabwe have adequate facilities to allow for mounting of electronic seals that enable the authority to track movement of the cargo," she said.

Meanwhile Zimra is also proposing stiffer penalties for tax evaders in the country as it works towards increasing revenue collections that can sustain the economy. This comes on the back of low tax compliance among Zimbabweans as well as lenient laws against offenders.

"People in Zimbabwe generally do not pay taxes. That is why we are working tirelessly to ensure a certain level of compliance. In most countries, if you do not pay tax you go to jail without question. That is why I am advocating that we need to have stiffer penalties for tax evasion than we have right now. We need to make sure that we collect enough to sustain our economy," she said adding that the authority was collecting only a "tip of an iceberg".

Earlier this year Mrs Bonyongwe said Zimra, during the first six months of the year, had suspended 21 officials and recovered $120 million through its anti-corruption drive following tip-offs from members of the public.

She added that three employees had since been dismissed for corruption-related conduct. In an update on revenue collection for the six months ending June 30, 2017, Mrs Bonyongwe said the tax authority's anti-corruption hotline had become handy as Government intensifies efforts to curb corruption, which has been blamed for frustrating economic growth.

"The anti-corruption hotline received 394 reports. Of these 218 were fully investigated while the remaining cases are still under different investigations. The investigations yielded about $120 million in assessments, 21 suspensions resulting in three officers who were dismissed as a result of those reports. Some officials are still undergoing disciplinary hearings," she said.

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Source - the herald
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