Stealing tax is a serious offence says Sikalinda

ZAMBIA Revenue Authority (ZRA) corporate communications manager Topsy Sikalinda says smugglers and tax evaders will no longer be penalised but will be criminally prosecuted. Sikalinda charged that ZRA had intensified checks at entry points and would not hesitate to pounce on those found wanting.

He also warned smugglers against pretending to be clearing agents and bringing chaos in the industry.

“The Zambia Revenue Authority is aware about plans by smugglers who are claiming to be clearing agents going round the country soliciting for a countrywide disruption to the smooth facilitation of trade across our borders,” Sikalinda said.

“This scheme is being hatched in response to our heightened anti-smuggling strategy and the standardisation of the valuation for duty purposes of imported used motor vehicles, including the recent decision to start allowing individuals to self-clear their importations aimed at restoring stability in the clearing industry.”

Sikalinda added that measures put in place would help reduce corruption and smuggling.

“These interventions have reduced opportunities for corruption and smuggling hence the reaction by smugglers who are masquerading as clearing agents and causing confusion in the clearing business. The purported clearing agents decided to protest at Chirundu, Kazungula and Livingstone and unfortunately some genuine clearing agents blindly joined in the protest,” he said.

He warned that licenses for erring agents would be revoked once found wanting.

“We want to remind the clearing agents that we are mandated to collect revenue on behalf of the government. As the licensing authority, we shall not hesitate to revoke any license for anyone who is found abetting smuggling by changing invoices or deliberately misclassifying goods at the ports of entry. Since January 2019, we have revoked 49 clearing licenses for various offences related to smuggling,” Sikalinda said.

“In view of the foregoing, the authority has strengthened the screening process of all clearing and forwarding agencies in order to protect the rights of importers and taxpayers in general. Our appeal is that these smugglers should immediately stop pretending to be clearing agents.”

Sikalinda said smugglers would be held liable for criminality.

“We wish to assure all smugglers, tax evaders that the time for charging penalties when found wanting is gone; we shall ensure that we prosecute you in the criminal courts because stealing tax is not only morally wrong but a serious criminal offence,” said Sikalinda.

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