TAXES, world over are an important component of development in a country.
These mandatory contributions collected by governments are used for infrastructure development such as roads, health facilities, as well as the provision of drugs and agriculture inputs.
Other key areas that benefit from taxes include education, tourism and mining which are some of the priority sectors in growing the economy.
However, in Zambia, it is unfortunate that some businesses, traders and clearing agents alike, are in the habit of eluding the mandatory responsibility of paying taxes through the engagement of activities like smuggling, thereby depriving government of the much needed funds to develop the country.
Smuggling makes government lose revenue to implement many national projects to grow the economy.
It is therefore a relief that authorities such as the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) are providing that watchful eye in ensuring that these activities are reduced or fully defeated.
This week, ZRA conducted anti-smuggling operations in which it collected additional revenue of K394 million after intercepting 1,406 trucks with border discrepancies ranging from under valuations, misclassifications, document falsification, transit fraud and outright smuggling.
These are for a period from January to September this year, and out of K394 million, K48 million involves Nakonde imports, one of the busiest border points for the country with the potential of generating more revenue for the Treasury.
ZRA corporate communications manager Topsy Sikalinda says had the authority not conducted anti- smuggling operations, Government would have lost this revenue.
The motive for using falsified documents is to avoid paying taxes.
Even though Mr Sikalinda states that there are a great number of genuine clearing agents and a few ‘bad eggs’ that always want to dent the clearing sector, any revenue lost is a loss to the country and it is important that more stringent measures so that those found wanting do not easily go scot-free.
Transit points of smuggling should further be beefed up with personnel from different Government agents to ensure transparency and accountability.
It is commendable that ZRA has invested in modern technology such as the installation of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) and the use of drones which is paying off.
So Importers and clearing agents that make false declarations of imported products will be in trouble as this is a jailable offence.
Like ZRA has appealed to those ‘bad eggs’, they should not dent the name of clearing agents by facilitating smuggling activities.
Make correct declarations and avoid smuggling.