Smuggled products worth Rwf590 million were impounded in the 2017/18 fiscal year, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) has said.
According to Faustin Niyigaba, the Acting Deputy Commissioner for Revenue Investigation and Enforcement department at RRA, the smuggled products included food, beverages, second hand clothes and illegal drugs among others.
He was speaking after RRA signed an agreement with Gicumbi district and three youth cooperatives to fight smuggling and drug dealing at the Rwanda-Uganda borders in the Northern Province.
The cooperatives comprise of some former drug dealers and smugglers.
They include Tujyembere Rubyiruko cooperative from Kaniga sector, Imbere Heze of Cyumba sector as well as Duterimbere Rubyiruko of Rushaki sector.
The move is part of RRA’s efforts to fight tax evasion as it seeks to meet its ambitious tax revenue collection targets to fund the country’s development ambitions. Rwanda seeks to wean itself off foreign aid.
RRA supported youth cooperatives to a tune of Rwf12 million to start income generating enterprises as part of the incentives to help the youth to abandon drug dealing and smuggling.
“We have to help them embrace alternative sources of income. The financial support will help them carry out different projects and thus abandon the fraud that hurts their lives and the economy,” he said.
RRA has also set up incentives for the youths who will volunteer information on smuggling and drug dealing.
Dismas Nsengiyaremye, the president of Tujyimbere cooperative said that they are now committed to supporting efforts to fighting smuggling and drug dealing.
The cooperatives are involved in various enterprises including poultry and piggery.
The Governor of Northern Province, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, said that the support to the vulnerable youth should be scaled up to other regions.
“People are requesting for more roads, water and electricity supply. They must know that these cannot be available if tax evasion and smuggling is persistent,” he said.