Liquors, wines and milk powder have consistently ranked as the smugglers’ most preferred items due to the fact that they go for higher prices on the black-market.
In an interview with The New Times, Director of Rwanda Revenue Authority’s (RRA) Revenue Protection Department, Seth Muhirwa said that most of the smuggled goods in the country come from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
He said that this problem mainly arises as a result of the loopholes in DRC’s revenue protection division.
“Annually we seize about 450 cartons of liquor, wines and powdered milk that have been smuggled into the country from DRC. Other smuggled goods come from the East African Community (EAC) through forged documentation.”
“EAC smugglers normally bring sugar, rice and flour but with documents which identify these goods as items from within the bloc yet in actual sense they are from outside the region and should be taxed,” he explained.
Citing an example of a fuel truck which was seized this week carrying 256 smuggled cartons of liquor and 67 cartons of powdered milk, Muhirwa emphasizes that the government loses a lot of revenue as a result of such tax evaders.
“That truck was supposed to transport fuel but also had smuggled goods. The annual estimated revenue from goods seized annually by RRA stands at about Rwf60 to 70 million.
To avoid such losses however, mobile units have been established to monitor and curb the vice within the country.
“We also have an information network in neighbouring countries such as DRC as a strategy to net evaders,” he added.
With a related cause, RRA also obtained speed boats to facilitate its anti-smuggling campaign along Lake Kivu through effective patrol.
Officials note that Lake Kivu is a big penetration area of various products and over the years, the treasury has been losing millions to racket smugglers who operate along this route.