Poor infrastructure forces pre-clearance system on Zim’s borders

HARARE – Ineffectual infrastructure has remained a significant contributor to bottlenecks at Zimbabwe’s borders, with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) moving to use a pre-clearance system to expedite flow of traffic.

In response to emailed questions Zimra chairperson Mrs Willia Bonyongwe said the three border posts of Beitbridge, Chirundu and Forbes were particularly impinged upon by infrastructural challenges.

“Some of the bottlenecks are due to the inadequacy of infrastructure at border posts like Beitbridge, Chirundu and Forbes.

“The Authority is in the process of attending to such infrastructural challenges in order to expedite traffic flow,” she said.

In view of these bottlenecks, which have been resulting in congestion at the particular border posts, ZIMRA says it “has put in place several measures to expedite clearances, enhance efficient border management and improve convenience to the transacting public”, with one of the more significant strategies being the implementation of a pre-clearance system.

“The pre-clearance system, for instance, enables importers to clear their consignments in advance, before the cargo arrives at the border post, as a way of expediting movement of cargo,” said Mrs Bonyongwe.

Other measures the tax collector has out in place at the country’s borders to improve operational efficiencies include the use of non-intrusive inspection equipment (scanners), which reduces turnaround time for the clearance of cargo.

And risk profiling is also being used to manage the flow of traffic and safeguard revenue.

Meanwhile, clearing agents operating at Zimbabwe’s border posts are alleged to be involved in undervaluing and underweighting of some imports as well as, hence potentially prejudicing the country of millions of dollars in revenue.

And in terms of the Customs and Excise Act (Chapter 23:02), it is an offence for anyone to clear goods improperly at the time of entry.

But ZIMRA has cast doubt over alleged corrupt activities by clearing agents, who are basically ‘free agents’ that are licensed by the Authority itself.

“The rates of duty on imported goods are as stipulated in the Customs and Excise Tariff Handbook. The amount of duty payable is not exclusively based on the size of the container but takes into account the nature, quantity and value of the goods being imported as well as the applicable rates of duty,” said Mrs Bonyongwe.

“In some instances, some goods may enjoy preferential rates of duty, depending on whether they meet rules of origin criteria as stipulated in the applicable trade agreements.”

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