RRA imposes tougher penalties on smuggling

In light of growing smuggling activities, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) has announced tough penalties for those implicated in smuggling.

The penalties will see both the goods involved in the activities as well as vehicles transporting the smuggled goods confiscated and auctioned off.

Besides this, drivers involved in the smuggling activities will be fined $5000 and also be prosecuted in accordance to the law.

The statement signed by the Commissioner-General of RRA, Pascal Bizimana Ruganintwali is aimed at discouraging the general public from taking part or being involved in smuggling activities.

RRA has cited growth in fraud and smuggling activities which they say are increasingly becoming popular and risk defrauding the agency billions of Francs.

For instance, last month, RRA busted a cartel that has been smuggling alcohol, spices and beauty products who worth remains unknown by estimated at billions of Francs.

The cartel would smuggle the products by using clever ways to guise their merchandise to avoid suspicion by customs and other officials through modified cars with false bottoms and compartments to hide the products.

The goods would then be processed in warehouses before distribution into the market. The preparation would involve sticking tax stamps on the bottles to guise as compliant bottles.

It is still unclear how much RRA has lost from the operations.

Last year, RRA intercepted about 230 tonnes of used clothes being smuggled into the country.

Among the major ways smugglers use is import goods and send them to a neighbouring country then find a way to smuggle back into the country, through porous borders.

To get across the borders easily, the goods are often ‘broken’ down to smaller packages and disguised as personal effects (without declaring them) in attempts to smuggle them across the border.

The smuggling process also often involves enlisting the help of paid people to smuggle the goods across the border, disguising as ordinary travelers.

Richard Dada, the Deputy Commissioner for revenue investigation and enforcement at RRA recently told The New Times that they will bring on a wide range of partners including tax complaint operators as they seek to rid the market off smuggled products.

RRA will also be stepping up existing cooperation with neighbouring countries, set up cargo control monitoring systems as well as raise awareness among the public to ensure that they can pick out smuggled items among retailer outlets.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

ADVERTISEMENT