BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
THE Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) has adopted a new approach of reporting its own officers facilitating smuggling activities which have increased as importers take advantage of Government’s desperation for revenue collection.
These smuggling activities are being facilitated by our officers, says ZRA Commissioner General, Kingsley Chanda.
Mr Chanda said ZRA would report any of its officers to relevant authorities such as the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the police.
“We are also aware, and let me be honest here, that these smuggling activities, in fact most of them, are facilitated by our officers.
“We recently reported three of our own officers to ACC and they have since been arrested, so this will continue. I want to warn our own officers that this will not be tolerated going forward,” he told reporters in Lusaka yesterday.
Mr Chanda said ZRA had noticed that importers had taken advantage of Government’s desperations for revenues which has decreased because of Covid-19.
During this period, he explained, importations had slowed down, thereby negatively impacting revenue collection.
He said there had been situations where consignments were being declared as items to fight Covid-19 as well as declarations purporting to be for Government.
Mr Chanda said he had therefore immediately instructed Commissioner Customs and the enforcement teams to go back to the 2019 philosophy where both goods and vessels used for smuggling were seized and forfeited.
He warned that ZRA would not tolerate any smuggling activity as it was unacceptable and depressing.
“They know that we are desperate to get revenues, so they take their chances to smuggle, because they know when they are caught they will only be fined and they will get away with it.
“We will stop charging and giving penalties and instead continue with seizing and forfeiting. That way we feel that when smugglers lose their goods and transporters lose their trucks, they will become more serious in dealing with ZRA,’ he said.