Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) on Thursday seized 600 sacks of wheat flour in Gisenyi town worth Rwf6.6 million before tax which had been smuggled into the country from Uganda.
The bags of flour which belonged to a businessman identified as Fulgence Mutemberezi, had been packed in maize sacks to disguise the goods and eventually evade taxes.
“We have always suspected him of tax evasion and smuggling but we had to wait until we caught him red-handed using our informers and tax officials,” said Evariste Ntaganda, the coordinator of RRA in the Western Province.
The act of smuggling is punishable by law, and the culprit is likely to face a cash fine and imprisonment of up to six months or both.
However, Mutemberezi is likely to escape the above punishments since he is a first time offender according to RRA officials.
“Our aim is not to punish but sensitize people to desist from this practice and get to know how important paying taxes is to the country but once it is persistent, we crack the whip,” added Ntaganda.
Nevertheless, Mutemberezi has been compelled to pay taxes for the wheat flour if he wants to reclaim his goods which he has done to the tune of Rwf10 million much above what he should have paid.
“The taxes have had to accumulate to this amount because there are fines for this and we are not sure whether he was importing the flour from the region since he can’t provide a certificate of origin for his
goods,” explained Ntaganda.
According to RRA officials, Mutemberezi has since fled the country to neighbouring DRC fearing that he could be arrested.
The authorities are also trying to investigate to find out who could be his accomplices since moving such a huge consignment from one border to another is almost impossible for one individual.