ZIMRA PLOTS RAIDS Septem­ber dead­line to reg­u­larise il­le­gal car im­ports

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Pamela Shumba/Harare Bureau

MO­TORISTS who fraud­u­lently im­ported ve­hi­cles into the coun­try have two months to reg­u­larise the im­ports or risk los­ing their cars.

On Septem­ber 30, the Zim­babwe Rev­enue Author­ity (Zimra) will start im­pound­ing ve­hi­cles that were brought into the coun­try il­le­gally.

The author­ity has em­barked on a ver­i­fi­ca­tion ex­er­cise to check whether im­ported cars were prop­erly cleared in ac­cor­dance with the ap­pli­ca­ble laws.

Mo­torists who im­ported their ve­hi­cles be­tween Jan­uary 2014 and June 2016 have been given up to Septem­ber 30 to ap­proach Zimra for the ver­i­fi­ca­tion ex­er­cise.

This comes as the foren­sic au­dit on the pay and ben­e­fits of the author­ity’s se­nior ex­ec­u­tives is still ongoing.

Ac­cord­ing to the Zim­babwe National Road Ad­min­is­tra­tion (Zi­nara), the coun­try’s ve­hi­cle pop­u­la­tion stands at 1,2 mil­lion, up from 800,000 in Septem­ber 2014.

There have been re­ports that thou­sands of cars could have been smug­gled into the coun­try by a syn­di­cate of Zimra of­fi­cials and clear­ing agents who have been pro­cess­ing coun­ter­feit un­der­val­ued im­port doc­u­ments to smug­gle ve­hi­cles and other prod­ucts.

Zimra’s board sec­re­tary and di­rec­tor le­gal and cor­po­rate ser­vices Ms Florence Jambwa yes­ter­day said the ex­er­cise was part of their reg­u­lar com­pli­ance checks which were car­ried out to safe­guard rev­enue.

“The on-go­ing ex­er­cise to ver­ify whether mo­tor ve­hi­cles which were im­ported be­tween Jan­uary 2014 and June 2016 is part of Zimra’s reg­u­lar com­pli­ance checks which are car­ried out to safe­guard rev­enue. The se­lec­tion of the pe­riod Jan­uary 2014 to June 2016 is part of the Author­ity’s risk pro­fil­ing. It does not mean that other pe­ri­ods out­side this will not be looked at as this is an ongoing ex­er­cise.

“The ex­tent of the only be as­cer­tained prej­u­dice, af­ter the if any, can com­ple­tion of the ex­er­cise,” she said.

Zimra act­ing com­mis­sioner gen­eral Mr Hap­pias Kuzv­inzwa yes­ter­day said all own­ers of mo­tor ve­hi­cles im­ported into the coun­try be­tween Jan­uary 2014 and June 2016 were ex­pected to ap­proach Zimra for ver­i­fi­ca­tion.

“Zimra is car­ry­ing out an ex­er­cise to ver­ify whether mo­tor ve­hi­cles im­ported into the coun­try were prop­erly cleared in ac­cor­dance with pro­vi­sions of the Cus­toms and Ex­cise Act (Chap­ter 23:02).

“In this re­gard, Zimra is kindly re­quest­ing all own­ers of mo­tor ve­hi­cles im­ported into Zim­babwe be­tween Jan­uary 2014 and June 2016 to ap­proach Zimra to get con­fir­ma­tion of proper clear­ance if found not to be in ac­cor­dance with the ap­pli­ca­ble laws. This should be done be­fore Septem­ber 30, 2016,” said Mr Kuzv­inzwa in a state­ment.

“To fa­cil­i­tate con­fir­ma­tion, mo­torists are ex­pected to ap­proach their near­est Zimra of­fices with their mo­tor ve­hi­cles to­gether with the nec­es­sary cus­toms clear­ance doc­u­ments and the ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion book.

“Those who fail to com­ply within the pe­riod pro­vided for, risk hav­ing their mo­tor ve­hi­cles seized wher­ever they are found,” said Mr Kuzv­inzwa.

Early this month, there were re­ports that the foren­sic au­dit on the pay and ben­e­fits of Zimra se­nior ex­ec­u­tives is on-go­ing, and will now be com­pleted at the end of the month af­ter of­fi­cials failed to meet the June 30 dead­line.

The au­dit is cen­tred on ex­ec­u­tive pay­roll and pack­ages in­clud­ing sec­ond­ment of Zimra staff, per­sonal loans ad­vanced to ex­ec­u­tives and sub­se­quent im­por­ta­tion and clear­ance of ve­hi­cles.

The foren­sic au­dit cov­ers the pe­riod from Jan­uary 2014 and the re­port de­tail­ing the find­ings of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions was sup­posed to have been sub­mit­ted to the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral’s Of­fice not later than June 30.

The Zimra board chair­per­son, Mrs Wil­lia Bony­ongwe, re­cently con­firmed the de­vel­op­ments and said they ex­pected the foren­sic au­dit to be com­plete by end of this month or by the first week of Au­gust.

She said the au­di­tors were al­ready on the ground but could not di­vulge any other de­tails con­cern­ing the au­dit.

The au­dit comes af­ter the board sent Com­mis­sioner-Gen­eral Ger­shem Pasi and five other se­nior ex­ec­u­tive man­agers on paid leave af­ter ques­tions were raised over the im­por­ta­tion of ve­hi­cles.

Zimra is also go­ing to act against these se­nior ex­ec­u­tives once the au­dit is com­pleted.

The ac­tion taken against the ex­ec­u­tives came amid re­ports that the Gov­ern­ment’s rev­enue col­lect­ing agent was los­ing mil­lions of dol­lars to deal­ers who were pro­cess­ing coun­ter­feit un­der­val­ued im­port doc­u­ments, to smug­gle ve­hi­cles and other prod­ucts.

The other five ex­ec­u­tives sent on leave are loss con­trol di­rec­tor Mr Charl­ton Chi­huri, Mrs Anna Mu­tombodzi (Com­mis­sioner of Cus­toms and Ex­cise), Mr Tjiyapo Velempini (di­rec­tor ICT and in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment), Mr Clive Charles Ma­jengwa (di­rec­tor in­ter­nal au­dit) and Mrs Sithokozile Them­bani Mrewa (di­rec­tor hu­man re­sources).

The au­di­tors are ex­pected to look into pro­cure­ment of ser­vices in­clud­ing re­cent and cur­rent ren­o­va­tions at Kurima House in Harare and es­tab­lish if proper pro­ce­dures were fol­lowed in award­ing ten­ders.

In ad­di­tion, the au­dit would also cover pro­cure­ment of uni­forms and the ICT equip­ment, Asy­cuda sys­tem val­i­da­tion and con­struc­tion of Chirundu houses.

Fur­ther, the au­dit firm would re­view all doc­u­ments and con­firm pur­chases were in line with the pro­cure­ment, stan­dards, and reg­u­la­tions and es­tab­lish whether the cost were jus­ti­fied.

“The (con­tracted) firm shall pro­duce a de­tailed re­port on the au­dit and where there is wrong­do­ing and crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, (should) pre­pare the nec­es­sary pa­pers for the nec­es­sary prose­cu­tion,” Zimra re­cently said.

The firm shall sub­mit a de­tailed re­port to the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral high­light­ing find­ings, rec­om­men­da­tions on cor­rec­tive ac­tion, spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tions geared to­wards greater and bet­ter fi­nan­cial man­age­ment, ac­count­abil­ity and cor­po­rate gover­nance of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

While Gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to meet rev­enue tar­gets has been largely blamed on poor per­for­mance of most rev­enue heads, cor­rup­tion at the coun­try’s bor­ders has also re­sulted in loss of mil­lions of po­ten­tial rev­enue.

It is largely sus­pected that some Zimra of­fi­cials are fa­cil­i­tat­ing en­try of un­der­val­ued im­ports and in some cases of smug­gling. It is also al­leged that some in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses are evad­ing duty by declar­ing goods des­tined for Zim­babwe as “in tran­sit”.

Mrs Bony­ongwe re­cently said cor­rup­tion was among the ma­jor fac­tors af­fect­ing rev­enue col­lec­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Zim­babwe National Sta­tis­tics Agency (Zim­stat), a 22 per­cent de­crease in car im­ports was recorded at the close of 2015 from the $469 mil­lion spent on ve­hi­cles in 2014 to $452 mil­lion due to high im­port duty tar­iffs and tight liq­uid­ity.

Zimra in­creased duty on sec­ond hand cars at the be­gin­ning of March, a de­vel­op­ment that saw im­porters pay­ing in­creased amounts by be­tween $300 to $1,000 for ve­hi­cles such as Toy­ota Corolla (both bub­ble and old shape), Toy­ota Vitz and Toy­ota Raum (old and new shapes) as well as Honda Fit, which are ve­hi­cles that have a high de­mand lo­cally.

Duty is cal­cu­lated at 96 per­cent in­clu­sive of VAT and Sur­tax of what it costs to buy the ve­hi­cle and trans­port it to the port of en­try at any Zim­bab­wean bor­der post as well as the year of man­u­fac­ture and fuel trans­mis­sion type (au­to­matic or man­ual).

Since the in­tro­duc­tion of the mul­ti­ple cur­rency sys­tem in 2009, Zim­bab­weans have re­sorted to im­port­ing sec­ond-hand ve­hi­cles as they are cheaper than those assem­bled lo­cally.

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