The Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) has suspended and revoked licences of 25 Clearing and Forwarding Agents for forgery, false declarations and smuggling, whose cases could have resulted in revenue loss of K6.5 million.

The move is aimed at strengthening the Authority’s momentum towards full tax compliance and zero-tolerance to fraud and corruption.

Twelve (12) licenses have been revoked for cases of forgery of customs clearance letters during the licensing exercise, forgery and false declarations, with potential loss of government revenue amounting to K3 million.

Thirteen (13) licenses have however been suspended due to various offences mostly forgery and attempted smuggling, with an approximate revenue loss of K3.5 million

The offences committed by the clearing and forwarding agents are in contravention of Section 182A, Regulations 120 – 126 (General Regulations) S.I 54 of 2000 of the Customs and Excise Act, Cap 322 of the Laws of Zambia and Gazette Notice No. 425 of 2005.

As at 31st October, 2020, ZRA had a total of 967 licensed companies for clearing and forwarding.

ZRA is also currently undertaking a bond redemption exercise involving a total of K38.35 million in potential duties and taxes from unaccounted for transits.

Bond redemption is undertaken by ZRA in collaboration with guarantors, namely banks and/or insurance companies in order to account for government revenue that is locked up in outstanding transit customs declarations. By law, all goods in transit, except those moving by rail, should exit Zambia within five (5) days.

Notable type of goods on which bond redemption is being undertaken are motor vehicles that move on “Own Wheels”, particularly those in transit to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe.

Since 2013-2020, a total of 7, 340 motor vehicles are deemed not to have exited Zambia.

Through the ZRA decentralized deposit account, a client that is transiting through Zambia to another country, can pay a deposit to customs at entry port such as Nakonde and have his/her deposit refunded by the customs office at the exit port such as Kasumbalesa upon confirmation of exit of the goods by customs.

Clearing agents being very important intervenors in the customs process have an important role to play in ensuring national security and public revenue collection and therefore the people involved in this business must be people whose ethical and business conduct is above board.

The Authority will continue plucking out those who aid tax evasion and fail to comply with legal requirements.

Smuggling of goods through false declarations, forgery, transit fraud, misclassifications, under-declarations and under-valuations is a serious offence and offenders will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

We are therefore warning all Clearing Agents to desist from engaging themselves in the above highlighted cases in order to avoid having their licences revoked.