Rwanda Revenue Authority has recovered over Rwf1, 217 billion of accrued taxes penalties levied on intercepted smuggled goods between January and September 2017.
At least 70 percent of the seized smuggled goods were second hand clothes locally known as caguwa, according to Senior Supt. Alphonse Businge, the commanding officer of the Rwanda National Police unit (RPU) attached to Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) to fight fraud and smuggling.
This follows an increase in the of taxes on second hand clothes from $0.5 to $2.5 per kilogramme, as part of the national programme to promote locally produced goods under the brand ‘Made in Rwanda’, fraud and smuggling of caguwa has shoot up.
SSP Businge says that “besides caguwa, Ibitenge traditional attire, soft and alcoholic drinks especially expensive liquors, cooking oil, powdered milk and vehicle spare parts, there are other commodities that are commonly seized.”
“We have intensified operations, checkpoints along mapped routes but also increased awareness which has strengthened our working relations with the people through information sharing, either from the loading points even in neighboring countries where the illegal practices are orchestrated or at the final destination where they are noticed as they are being off-loaded,” he added.
It is said that bundles of second hand clothes are concealed in rice, maize and cassava flour sacks, Businge confirms that Police know all these tricks because of the good partnership with the people.”
He warns traders against evading taxes by under-valuing goods or manipulating the electronic billing machines(EBM).
The coordinator of electronic billing machine, Emmy Mbera, appeals to the public to always demand receipts due to the fact that the value added taxes are paid by the end user who is the buyer.
“The end user is the one who pays VAT not the seller; the seller is just like a broker between the buyer and the government.”
“If the buyer doesn’t demand the receipt, then he or she is not sure if their financial contribution in national development has been delivered. These are public funds that should just be delivered, because contrary to that, it’s more like embezzlement, which you will be forced to pay with other penalties as the law states,” Mbera said.
Currently, RRA is auctioning vehicles and goods that were intercepted in such fraudulent acts, over the past years.