BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) says clients using the Beitbridge Border Post are deliberately falsifying declaration submissions under its pre-payment and pre-clearance facilities, prejudicing the State of millions of dollars in potential revenue.
In a statement last week, Zimra spokesperson Francis Chimanda said clients were abusing the pre-payment and pre-clearance facilities for consolidated trucks introduced during the COVID-19 lockdown to facilitate importation of food and essential goods by private individuals using omalayitsha.
“This facility has always been available for commercial imports. However, random spot-checks and physical inspections have shown that the quantities, price points of imported materials have been falsely declared, defeating the purpose of pre-payment and pre-clearance, which is intended to ensure smooth clearance and facilitation of movement of people and goods. This has forced Zimra to enforce the law by searching all these trucks,” he said.
Due to physical inspections, there has been congestion at the Beitbridge Border Post.
Pre-clearance and pre-payment facilities make it mandatory for every omalayithsa to make a declaration and pay duty before they cross the border.
However, Chimanda said the huge number of false declarations as shown by the amount of revenue recoveries from each truck has resulted in 100% physical checks.
“The risk management system in use in customs provides for customs intervention for shipments that provide the most risk. We have noted that almost all shipments under this category have false declarations in terms of quantity and values,” he said.
“The goods in question are mostly groceries — cooking oil, bath soaps, washing powder, flour, etc. The selling prices of these goods in South Africa are well known and so false declarations are easy to find out.”
Chimanda said Beitbridge Border Post used to clear about 80 buses per day before COVID-19 came in, but the former bus operators have now joined the omalayitsha and have replaced the buses with rigid trucks.
“The facility is also being abused as a lot of the cargo being brought is commercial cargo, but falsely declared as private importation,” he said.
He said there were huge amounts of revenue leakages at stake, for instance — as of September 10 2020, 159 searches have been conducted with revenue recovered amounting to $6,1 million
“We have designated more search points and increased our staff numbers and will continue to monitor the situation,” Chimanda said.