The Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) says it has intercepted 50 trucks carrying Ethanol, Cooking oil and Salaula worth K42.3 million in taxes.

And Sikalinda has disclosed that 10 ZRA employees have been suspended for conniving with the smugglers.

In a statement, Tuesday, ZRA Corporate Communications Manager Topsy Sikalinda said the smugglers falsely declared their goods with the intention of avoiding to pay tax.

Sikalinda said the authority has since issued the trucks with seizure notices.

“The Zambia Revenue Authority has intercepted 50 trucks carrying Ethanol, Cooking oil and Salaula (second hand clothes) worth K42.3 million in taxes. The trucks have been issued with seizure notices in accordance with section 141 and 142 Chapter 322 of the Customs and Excise Act for breaking the law. Out of these trucks, 8 were transporting ethanol but deliberately declared as methanol (methylated spirit) with intent to defraud the state of over K10.9 million kwacha in taxes. Ethanol is 98% alcohol that is used in the manufacturing of high content alcohol known as Tujilijili, Junta and other dangerous alcoholic spirits when diluted. These alcoholic spirits are usually sold cheaply in the streets and in most cases to children with consequential health hazards,” Sikalinda said.

“Further, 34 trucks currently held at the ZRA Makeni Enforcement Centre were intercepted while transporting cooking oil misclassified as palm crude oil when in fact it is purified cooking oil ready for consumption. Related to this fraud, another 8 trucks have been seized at Chanida border and are being transferred to the Makeni Enforcement Centre. This fraud would have led to loss of K24.7 million. Please note that crude palm oil attracts zero customs duty. The misclassification adversely affects local manufacturers through unfair competition. This also destroys the market for local farmers of soya beans and sunflower. Finally, 6 trucks have been seized for misclassifying Salaula (secondhand clothes) as agricultural pumps with intent to defraud the state of K6.7 million kwacha. The agricultural pumps attract zero customs duty.”

Sikalinda, however, disclosed that 12 trucks were released because their owners tipped off the authority about the illegal consignments.

“Some of these trucks were declared as transit goods when in fact they were dumping these goods in the country. On a good note, the Authority has released 12 trucks that were impounded after a tip off from transporters (owners of the trucks). The trucks have been released while the goods have been seized. The Commissioner General of the Zambia Revenue Authority, Mr. Kingsley Chanda, has invested a lot of money in press adverts asking transporters to report all smuggling activities and these transporters have responded to that appeal by reporting the mismatch between what was on the documents and what was being transported,” Sikalinda stated.

Meanwhile, Sikalinda disclosed that 10 ZRA employees have been suspended for conniving with the smugglers.

“The identity of these transporters will be protected as promised by the Authority. Those transporters who do not report these activities risk their vessels being seized and forfeited to the state. To this end, all the seized trucks will be forfeited to the state without compensation as soon as investigations are concluded. We have further suspended 10 ZRA employees who are suspected to have been conniving with the smugglers and reported them to the security wings for further investigations and possible prosecution,” Sikalinda said.

“Smuggling is a big threat to the economic growth of our country because it creates price distortions, unfair competition and robes the country of the much needed revenue. It is also a serious security risk that must be stopped at any cost. The authority will not spare any smuggler, clearing agent, transporter and even ZRA officers involved in smuggling or any form of tax evasion. Our newly rebranded Inspectorate and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit has been fully resourced and re-engineered in order to stop any form of revenue leakage.”

And Sikalinda says the seized goods will be donated to orphanages on request, while the trucks will be donated to the military.

“The Commissioner General, would like to invite all government hospitals, orphanages, boarding schools and churches involved in looking after the aged and the under privileged to immediately write officially requesting for donation of cooking oil. We have over 500 drums by 210 liters of cooking to donate starting today. The forfeited trucks will later be donated to the military once the formalities are completed,” said Sikalinda.