Zimra Close In On Omalayitsha
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has unearthed massive under-declaration of goods at the Beitbridge border post by cross-border transporters otherwise known as Omalayitsha who are abusing the authority’s pre-payment and pre-clearance system to under declare goods.
The phenomenon which could have prejudiced the tax authority of substantial amounts has since been detected and as of yesterday, Zimra recovered $ 6, 1 million in just 159 searches.
The pre-payment and pre-clearance felicities are normally restricted to commercial imports for quicker passage of goods at the border but where however introduced to consolidate Omalayitsha and facilitate importation of food and essential imports by private individuals during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“The facility makes it mandatory for every omalayitsha to make a declaration and pay duty before they cross the border. There is no rebate applicable as these goods are unaccompanied by their real owners. However, the huge number of false declarations as shown by the amount of revenue recoveries from each truck has resulted in 100% physical checks,” Zimra said.
Common among the goods being ferried into the country are mainly groceries- cooking oil, bath soaps, washing powder and flour among others.
Fortunately for authorities, the selling prices of these goods in South Africa are well known hence making it easy to identify cases of false declarations.
In some cases, the facility is being used to import commercial cargo under the guise of private goods.
“There are huge amounts of revenue leakages at stake, for instance, as of today, the 10th of September 2020, 159 searches have been conducted with revenue recovered amounting to $6,1 million. The facility is also being abused as a lot of the cargo being brought is commercial cargo but falsely declared as private importation,” said the tax collector.
Zimra says it has since designated more search points and increased its staff numbers to monitor the situation at a time the syndicates continue to device complex means of smuggling goods.
According to official figures, Zimbabwe loses on average US$1 billion in potential tax through contraband as authorities battle to contain these illegal activities.
With a massive drop in bus traffic since lockdown came into effect, Omalayitsha have since teamed up with truck drivers who are also making big returns by smuggling goods.