Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has suspended manual clearance processes in favour of digital services as it moves in to operationalise the Government’s national responsiveness plan to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at the country’s ports of entry.
The revenue authority said in a public notice that travellers and other clients among them importers, exporters and customs clearing agents are encouraged to use the e-services to minimise the interface with customs and excise officers. All physical examinations on goods (inbound and out bound) and the clearing of goods including vehicles under the Immigrant Rebate facility have been suspended.
At least 3 500 vehicles are imported through the immigrant rebate facility annually, at Beitbridge Border Post alone. It is also reported that, on average 670 import bills for entry are processed at Beitbridge including those in transit and 100 are handled on the export side. According to the Statutory Instrument 154 of 2001 – Customs and Excise (General) Regulations, 2001, an immigrant rebate is granted to any person who enters the country to take permanent residence or a visitor but remains to take up employment or permanent residence or a diplomat but remains to take up employment or permanent residence or to attend any educational institution or for the purpose of attending any educational institution. These are allowed to import household property and vehicles duty-free on condition that they satisfy the tax authority that they own the goods and that the same were fully paid for before or on the first occasion of entry into the country and declaration as an immigrant.
“Please be advised that with effect from 24 March 2020, the clearance of immigrants has been suspended forthwith in line with the precautions stipulated by Government,” said Zimra in the notice.
“All immigrants should approach Zimra for clearance not earlier than 21 days after their time of arrival with certification from a medical institution that they have been cleared of infection.
“Vehicles imported by immigrants will be placed on RIH pending clearance by owners. Any appeals against the regional manager’s decision for old, pending or current cases should be submitted in writing by email.”
Zimra has said that clearance procedures had been simplified and that travellers were required to tender correct declarations for processing including the payment of any duties, taxes and charges due. It said operations at Beitbridge Border Post will no longer allow physical access to reception, document checking and queries, including the enquiries window on the exit side and manifest control window on the entry side in line with the precautions stipulated by Government.
“Be advised that all documents check and queries issues, including formal correspondence should be dealt with in the system and/or by way of email or telephone with the appropriate responses in the same way. All physical examinations have been suspended and any system initiated PEs will be waived by default until further notice. In addition, all permits and schedules required for mark off should now be submitted to and retained by Zimra in clearly marked and secure folders and all calculated duties, taxes, other charges and fines levied remain payable,” said Zimra.
However, the authority said the foregoing dispensations do not preclude the need for future audits or review of all or any declarations selected for such future enforcement activities, including the physical examination of any available goods subject matter of such declarations.
“It’s therefore peremptory that all declarations be correct in all respects and that any supporting documents attached be correct, valid and relevant to the declaration,” it said.