By Staff Writer
The Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) has unearthed a scam used by importers to smuggle alcohol into the country by concealing it under coal.
This discovery comes after ZRA intercepted two trucks in Kazungula carrying 1,202 cases of assorted alcoholic drinks, 11 loose bottles concealed under coal fines.
The seized items could have led to a loss of over K2.6 million if not intercepted.
The respective trucks had Customs clearance documents pertaining to consignments of coal fines, which was visible on first sight, but no declaration was raised for the concealed alcohol.
An alert ZRA Customs officer took interest in verifying that the truck was indeed carrying coal only but discovered that there was more than what was declared.
It is apparent that this is an alternative mode of concealment which was being used to bring in high value/ dutiable goods such as alcoholic beverages as the vessels often carry bulk coal from Hwange, Zimbabwe.
ZRA, in collaboration with other government agencies, continues to be vigilant to curb smuggling of goods and prevent other economic crimes.
Taxpayers are therefore encouraged to pay their taxes and remain compliant with tax laws in order to avoid punitive enforcement measures including prosecution and forfeiture of goods.
As an institution, our role is to facilitate legitimate trade and so we will continue to engage taxpayers and players in the business sector to ensure more compliance. We are available for consultation on importation of goods or any tax issues through our Call Centre line on 4111.
Smuggling is a serious offence under the Customs & Excise Act. Besides depriving the Government of revenue for public investment and services, smuggling distorts market prices thereby robbing local businesses of fair competition. With time, this malpractice leads to the collapse of local industries.
ZRA is encouraging the public to report suspected cases of smuggling and tax evasion.