THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) says transit traffic has dropped by 60% since the introduction of the Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS), showing many were involved in transit smuggling.
The ECTS was introduced in May in order to help curb smuggling, which is costing an average of $1 billion in annual government revenue.
Speaking at the KPMG IFRS and Business Seminar yesterday in Harare, Zimra board chairperson Willia Bonyongwe said transit smuggling was a major contributor to the overall smuggling in the country.
“We have noticed that since the introduction of the cargo transit system we have had a 60% drop in the so-called transit traffic which means there was huge smuggling which was occurring in this instance and now our endeavour is to make sure that we actually seal all the high-risk trucks and tankers,” she said.
Bonyongwe said that the increase in fiscalisation would increase revenue collection and as such plug the loopholes being exposed by tax evaders.
According to research done by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, some of the goods being smuggled include basic commodities such as cooking oil, second hand clothes, cigarettes, furniture, milk products, tooth paste, detergents, maheu, and fuel among others.
Fuel smuggling has also reportedly been on the rise with Zimra having a number of cases of smuggled fuel into the country.
Some of the tactics being used by transit truckers to smuggle goods into the country include showing Zimra officials fake papers at the border, showing the contents of goods they are transporting heading to other countries to avoid paying customs duty.
Once the Zimra official allows the truck to pass, the trucker proceeds to dump the goods in some area in the country.
“People must give tax issues their rightful place. I think this is a problem we have. I think even the debts which we are having, the aggression we are talking about, is because people have not given tax issues their rightful place,” she said.
The ECTS system is a master and slave device that was introduced to track transit truck in real time on the Zimra servers.
At the time of introduction, there were 430 master, 1 300 slave and 887 break bulk sealing devices launched with more on the way from Malaysia.
In June 2016, government identified transit truckers as the biggest culprits responsible for significant volumes of smuggled goods entering Zimbabwe costing $1,5 billion in annual revenue.