Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) has reaffirmed its commitment to fighting business malpractices such as smuggling, importation of counterfeits and sub-standard products in the country.
During the 65th International Customs Day celebrations in Kigali on Saturday, officials cited used clothes, liquor, among most smuggled goods.
Red bull beverages, Amstel beer, Uganda-made soda, engine oil and maize flour were also listed.
The smuggled items, which were impounded in Kigali and provinces, mainly at borders, were valued at over Rwf 156 million.
The items should have brought in taxes valued at over Rwf 139 million.
After interception by the customs department, the smuggled items led to fines worth over Rwf 150 million.
The day was marked under the theme, ‘A secure business environment for economic development.’
Speaking at the event, William Musoni, the acting Commissioner of Customs at Rwanda Revenue Authority, said fighting smuggling would involve also addressing integrity challenges among some customs staff, clearing agents and importers.
He singled out drugs, noting that the customs body is ready to fight smuggling, into the country, of banned drugs to help save youth, who are the future engine of the nation.
He said, “We can’t afford to tolerate drugs smuggling. We shall fight it at all costs with continued partnership and assistance from the Police, defence forces and migration offices, we are confident to win this battle.”
He appealed to customs partners, especially clearing agents, to keep the current collaboration, and restrain from aiding smuggling while sensitising their clients against the vice.
Rwanda joined the rest of the world to celebrate the International Customs Day, normally celebrated on January 26 every year, as a members of World Customs Organisation (WCO) where each country organises national events to communicate recent customs initiatives, sensitise stakeholders and partners on areas designed to simplify and facilitate trade.
Richard Tusabe, the Commissioner General of Rwanda Revenue Authority, said the day is significant to Rwandan business community and customs fraternity.
He said: “I think our country is in good position to create a conducive environment for business, thanks to good leadership and great partnership between the government and the private sector. We, especially the customs body, only need to maintain that character to enhance our country’s economic development.”
Intracargo Ltd emerged among the best clearing agencies which were recognised for rendering exceptional services to their clients.
Josephine Nyebaza, the managing director of Intracargo Ltd, who also serves as vice chairperson, Rwanda Freight Forwarders Association, said, “Picking an award at such a very important and special day is awesome for me and for the clearing sector in general, as this comes to encourage us to do better while delivering our services and this is all thanks to good partnership with the customs department.”
Recent customs achievements highlighted include putting in place Authorised Economic Operators scheme to reward most tax complying business, Electronic Single Window that has removed red tape in clearing of goods from customs area, Electronic Cargo Tracking System, and Gold Card Scheme among others.
In addition, different reforms were made to facilitate trade in the region where by, for example, transporting products from Mombasa to Rwanda could take between 18 and 20 days due to delays of clearing process at the border post, but, after the border posts started to operate 24/7 days, the time significantly reduced to only 6 days.