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Chirundu OSBP improvement plan coming

Chirundu OSBP improvement plan coming
Photo credit: MoF Zambia

08 Nov 2017

Africa’s pioneer One-Stop-Border Post, located between Zambia and Zimbabwe at Chirundu, is no longer operating as efficiently as originally intended, Minister of Finance Felix Mutati and Zambia Revenue Authority Commissioner General Kingsley Chanda have both acknowledged.

The world-class trade facilitation establishment was created in 2009 to set the clearing time of commercial vehicles [trucks] to not more than eight hours as indicated in the customs charter between the two sister Republics of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Currently however, trucks are taking as long as two-weeks to be cleared.

Both the Minister and the Commissioner General were speaking when Mr. Mutati visited Chirundu-One-Stop-Border for an on-the-spot-check, following complaints tendered by cross border merchants on the inordinate delays in the clearance of trucks and other commercial vehicles.

While admitting the weaknesses on the customs side, Mr. Chanda paid tribute to the Immigration Department for their speedy and efficient service delivery whereby clients are cleared in less than ten minutes.

And Minister Mutati has noted that, although Zambia and Zimbabwe were Africa’s pioneers in the establishment of the One-Stop-Border, “we have not only been overtaken by other jurisdictions and regions in terms of the effectiveness of border operations, our inception target of eight hours clearance time for trucks has deteriorated to a dismal eight days or more.”

“We are going to take critical steps to address the problem and ensure that our regional and international competitiveness is escalated through reduction in cost of logistics and transport,” said the Minister.

He also explained that, “a component of the cost of doing business is the time that it takes for trucks to be cleared at the border.”

Mr. Mutati expressed confidence that if the clearing challenges at Chirundu border were addressed, there would be a positive impact on the cost of doing business.

“In 2018, the Government will focus of domestic resource mobilisation; enhancing tax compliance; minimising revenue leakages; promoting a value for money mind-set; and, improving our general service delivery,” stated Mr. Mutati to an audience which comprised of members of the media, district officials, inter-agency representatives, clearing agents, and ZRA personnel.

“The Government will implement service enhancement systems by the end of the year to improve monthly revenue collection targets,” he said, and further added that, “improved domestic resource mobilisation will enable the Government to effectively finance development programmes and service the public debt.”

“The less hustle we extend to tax payers by minimising the time they spend at the border, the happier we make them,” lamented Mr. Mutati and then said, “I remain confident that we will turn things around and extend the exercise to Kazungula, Livingstone, Kasumbalesa, and Nakonde borders.”

The Minister further urged the Zambia Revenue Authority to adopt the Seventh National Development Plan approach of working in clusters by engaging other border management agencies in order to optimise operational efficiency.

Mr. Mutati went on to praise the Immigration Department for their efficiency while decrying the slow pace of operations on the commercial side managed by other Government agencies.

“We need to be bullish about this matter; so we will meet in ten days to begin the solution implementation process,” he said.

And the Commissioner General assured the Minister of the Revenue Authority’s capacity to turn things around, stating that, “we have the money to do so.”

“Customs clearing companies are a key stakeholder in the clearing of goods at borders worldwide,” said Mr. Chanda.

He also said, “we will the clearing companies with facilities, where possible, to ensure that they embrace the concept of electronic payment systems and pre-clear goods to improve border clearance operations.”

A week ago, Mr. Chanda said the Zambian Revenue Authority will invest in modernisation, automation, and innovation in order to boost domestic revenue mobilisation; with a special focus on VAT and Excise Duty.

Mr. Chanda made the assurance at the conclusion of the Zambian delegations’ tour of duty at the just ended 2017 Annual Meetings of The IMF and The World Bank held in Washington, DC, United States of America.

Source Ministry of Finance, Zambia
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Date 08 Nov 2017
 
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