Editor's Comment

ZRA needs support from the public

THAT the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) has intercepted four trucks laden with lotions worth over K1.7 million which were initially declared as cleaning materials to authorities at Chanida border is evidence of the fierce fight the authority is putting up against smuggling.
Zambia has been battling rampant smuggling for a long time. Despite the measures put in place to curb the scourge, it seems there are individuals who have resolved that smuggling is their way of life and will continue to abrogate the law with impunity.
In the last two months, the authority intercepted and seized various consignments in line with its zero tolerance policy on smuggling.
Among the seized consignments was a truck laden with alcoholic drinks worth K1 million disguised as furniture. Another incident involved a truck laden with beer worth K3 million which was disguised as onions. Fortunately, the alert ZRA officers impounded the truck.
Going by frequency of media reports on intercepted and seized smuggled consignments, it is evidence that the watchmen are not sleeping on duty but keeping a watchful eye. It also sends a strong message to all those perpetuating the vice that their days are numbered.
Going by the persistent and sophisticated nature of the illegality, the authority has been proactive in devising new strategies to combat the vice. Not too long ago, ZRA announced suspension of charging penalties on all cases and embracing a tougher measure.
It is now mandatory for all smuggled goods to be seized together with the vessel and forfeited to the State. In the past, only selected goods could be seized and this turned out to be a loophole for smugglers. Now they have to think twice before venturing into this illegality.
This will certainly deter many smugglers who have been abrogating the law with impunity knowing that a penalty fee would easily get them off the hook without losing their goods.
What is of more concern is that some of these illegal activities are aided by clearing agents and some ZRA officials.
It is, however, good to know that going forward, the licences of clearing agents found to be helping smugglers will be revoked immediately and perpetrators handed to law enforcement agencies for prosecution. This also applies to any ZRA officer proved to be involved in smuggling.
This will certainly make the clearing agents and ZRA officers with skewed minds think twice before engaging in the illegality because of the high stakes.
According the new ZRA regulations, vehicles used for smuggling goods will also be seized. The onus is, therefore, on the owners of these trucks to be wary of dubious importers and exporters.
Transporters will therefore be doing themselves and the country a favour by reporting any illegality instead of abetting the crime.
There is need for concerted efforts in ensuring that this cancer in nipped in the bud.
The country’s economy is in bad shape and the national resource basket depleted due to unforeseen expenditure necessitated by the pandemic.
The country’s 2020 budget has been thrown in disarray due to high inflation.
Needless to say despite the situation, Government needs to continue providing necessary services such as health, education, water and sanitation and even relief food among many others. And the only way to do this is through taxes remitted to ZRA.
It is therefore responsible and patriotic for every citizen to not only fulfil their obligations but to ensure that everyone does so. It is an unfortunate that in instances of smuggling involving foreigners, the locals are the ones that abet the illegality.
Zambians should learn to look at the bigger picture and act for the good of the country. For instance, allowing people to smuggle concealed goods into the country is dangerous because it can expose citizens to harmful substances.
For goods legally imported into the country are subjected to tests to ensure that they are in compliance with set standards.
Goods that fall below set standards are denied entry. However, with smuggling, the chances of bringing goods that are harmful to people are very high because there is no-one to enforce the regulations. This is because goods are brought in under cover.
ZRA needs commendation and the support of all Zambians in the fight against this vice. This is because ZRA’s victory over this battle is victory for all Zambians.

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