via New Zimra measures to stoke price hikes | The Zimbabwean 10 September 2014
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has introduced a raft of new measures to handle goods and vehicles at the Beitbridge border post but experts and observers say the new system will cause mayhem at the country’s busiest port.
There are fears that the raft of new operational measures that were effectively introduced on September 4 will result in painful delays and downstream hikes in prices. All bills of entry will be processed in Masvingo with Beitbridge now only serving as a point of release.
According to one concerned source, this will lead to delays in the finalisation of all clearances.
In addition, said the source, there will be a 100 percent search of vehicles as all trucks will be forced to go through a container depot where they will offload goods that would have already been cleared in order to verify quantities, value and nature of the items being transported.
“If Zimra is not satisfied with the value, the importer will have to prove by submitting a bank transfer as proof of payment to the supplier stating the corresponding value the one declared on the invoice.
Zimra’s insistence on checking the goods item by item is bound to claim a lot of business time, said the source, leading to eventual loss of revenue.
Furthermore, truck operators will be made to pay an extra fee for the processing of their goods at the container depots.
Zimra will still issue truckers with gate passes, but there will be an extra cost as another pass amounting to about $35 dollars or R400 will be required at the container depot after physical examinations.
Truck operators will also be forced to pay about R600, about $55, to casual labourers who offload and load the goods.
“Expect Zimra road blocks along all highways to re-check all goods cleared from various ports,” added the source.
Zimra officials at Beitbridge have come under attack for causing delays and congestion at the Beitbridge port, the gateway into southern Africa.
They are accused of sluggishness and corruption, allegedly clearing cargo carriers after receiving bribes.
The new measures by Zimra will also result in increased paperwork and worsened bureaucracy and it is not clear if the casual labourers will bring their own cranes to the container depots.
Eric Bloch, an economist, expressed fear that the new measures might force goods transporters to pass the extra cost to the consumers and retailers.
“Naturally, the new measures would result in commercial time being lost. In addition, the truck operators will bear extra costs that they would pass onto to the retailers and consumers. This, therefore, has an inflationary tendency as prices will go up. The operators cannot bear the new costs on their own,” said Bloch.
He hoped that Zimra had already put in place, measures to minimise delays in examining the goods, saying that there is need for the authority to train and boost staff numbers in the wake of the new goods handling system.
However, he said the new system would result in less smuggling of goods to and from Zimbabwe, but was quick to point out that Zimra officials must desist from accepting bribes from the truckers to clearly them.
He added that the newly introduced measures would result in more paper work and there more redtape.
Innocent Makwiramiti, a former chief executive officer at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC): “Zimra lacks the capacity to handle the pressure it is creating for itself. There will be congestion, more corruption and this might scare away investors”.
He predicted that the congestion would get worse as we move closer to the festive Christmas season.