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Business demands solutions to smuggling

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GOVERNMENT has been urged to find solutions to continued leakages at the country’s ports of entry in order to curb rampant smuggling.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chief executive officer, Christopher Mugaga this week told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance that Zimbabwe was losing over $1,5 billion a year through smuggling.

Mugaga said even the promulgation of Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, which temporarily regulates importation of certain products that can be produced locally such as foodstuffs, body lotions, second-hand tyres, building materials and furniture and others, had not helped the situation.

“Smuggling is becoming an issue and it is a reality, whose impact is disastrous to the extent that it is affecting business,” he said. “ZNCC did a survey on the tyre industry and we found out that on average, we use 1,2 million tyres per year, and consumption of tyres is on average 100 000 per month, of which more than 50% are second-hand tyres.

“It is obvious that smuggling is an issue — and it is not only tyres that are being smuggled. It costs the country not less than $1,5 billion per year.”

Mugaga said there was need for adequate data in the country to provide statistics, as well as economic growth targets that are realistic.

He applauded the announcement by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa that the tenure of office of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) commissioner-general would be limited in order to curb corruption.

Zimra boss, Gershem Pasi is on suspension on allegations of corruption.

While presenting the 2017 National Budget statement in December last year, Chinamasa announced that term limits for the Zimra commissioner-general would be fixed to a maximum of two, five-year terms as open terms tended to breed corruption due to overfamiliarisation with taxpayers.

Chinamasa added that unlimited terms do not provide room for innovative ideas required for the strategic and policy leadership of the authority’s operations.

Mugaga said the numerous police roadblocks had become an impediment in the country’s efforts to create an environment that is good for business.

“Most countries complain of the number of roadblocks in our country. Those roadblocks will not accept anything except cash, and for a country like Zimbabwe, without rail transport, roadblocks after every 40 kilometres are an eyesore. We believe it is one of the reasons Zimbabwe has been ranked low in ease of doing business, at 161 out of 189,” he said.

Ordinary citizens have also cried foul over the many police check-points across the country’s roads.

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