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ZRA meets fuel stakeholders after busting smugglers

 

THE Zambia Revenue Authority says the operation in border points is meant to bring sanity to the importation of fuel into Zambia and also highlight the poor performance of excise duty due to smuggling.

On Sunday, ZRA unearthed another fuel scam  at Katima Mulilo, Chirundu and Chanida borders where fuel was being smuggled into the country. ZRA has so far seized 60 trucks for smuggling fuel. ZRA Corporate Communications manager Topsy Sikalinda explained that 30 trucks were at Chirundu, seven at Katima Mulilo and 23 at Chanida border.

“20 trucks have since been seized  and will be forfeited to the state in accordance with section 149, 156 and 160 of the Customs and Excise Act, Cap 322 of the Laws of Zambia. Facts of the matter are that the trucks have installed false belly tanks meant to be used in concealing the smuggled fuel. The belly tanks are not connected to the vehicle fuel system and investigations have revealed that the fuel is actually meant to be used for internal operations within Zambia after being offloaded,” Sikalinda stated on Sunday.

“This has actually been affecting our revenue collections and this explained the underperformance of excise duty on fuel due to smuggling.The Zambia Revenue Authority will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who smuggles items into the country as this robs the Zambian people of the much needed resources meant to improve social welfare, health, education and other strategic sectors of the economy. Investigations continue with other detained trucks, while all borders have been put on high alert.We want to send a very strong warning to all truckers with additional tanks on the trucks to remove them immediately before we pounce on them and they risk losing their trucks if we find them with additional tanks meant to conceal undeclared fuel.”

Yesterday, ZRA held a meeting with petroleum transporters and the energy regulation board to find solutions to the problem.

“The latest being we had a meeting with the Petroleum Transporters Association and Truckers Association and ERB today (Monday). The meeting was meant to meet the key stakeholders and explain the intentions of ZRA in the operation. The meeting which included the clarity that the intention of the operation is meant to bring sanity to the importation of fuel into Zambia  and also highlight the poor performance of excise duty due to smuggling,” Sikalinda told The Mast yesterday.

“It was agreed that correct things must be done and truckers are expected to operate within the confines of the law. The operations will also help level the playing field with all operators because smuggled fuel was distorting the market prices in the transport industry .  The smugglers had an advantage over their competitors. The operation is also meant to help genuine operators and genuine transporters have a level playing field.”

He said ZRA  would not encourage smuggling.

“We want to assure the genuine transporters not to worry as the operation will only affect the smugglers who want to cheat the Zambian people by not paying taxes,” said Sikalinda.

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