PETER SICHALI writes
CLEARING agents have protested the proposed clearing agents module introduced by Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) that will require importers to be paired to agents.
The agents fear that local firms will be sidelined in preference for international companies.
Customs Clearing and Freight Forwarding Agents Association of Zambia (CCFFAAZ) president Bruce Kaemba said the introduction of the new system would disadvantage indigenous clearing companies.
Mr Kaemba said agents have rejected the proposed clearing agents’ module that will require importers to be locked to clearing agents for all their clearance.
He said once introduced the system clearing agents would allow multinationals to take advantage and monopolise the business, which ordinarily should be the preserve of the indigenous Clearing Agent.
Mr Kaemba said the intentions to introduce this method by ZRA, which would entail that an importer would already have his or her appointed clearing agent to clear their goods, way before they arrive at the border.
“According to ZRA this would be a way of securing the TPIN of the importer,”
Mr Kaemba wondered why ZRA was trying to pioneer this system, which it says was not the responsibility of the revenue collector.
“As CCFFAAZ we feel and believe that securing one’s TPIN is not the responsibility of ZRA just like banks do not monitor how their clients safeguard their account numbers,” Mr Kaemba said.
Mr Kaemba said it was unfortunate that ZRA was not coming out to explain clearly how it would level the playing field when multinationals would definitely be the sole beneficiaries of this system because they have the capacity to capture business right from the source.
“Neither does ZRA tell us how long a clearing agent will hold on to that business. This to us is the fertile business environment which will encourage proliferation of cartels. This then will put us the indigenous Clearing Agents out of business,” Mr Kaemba said.
Mr Kaemba advised that ZRA to allow the current business arrangement in the clearing industry to continue saying that the status quo encouraged competition, which was healthy and progressive in any business undertaking.
“Their intention to introduce clearing agents module as a way of stopping the abuse of importer’s TPIN does not hold water as the best way can only be where the client receives an alert message from Customs each time there is a transaction on his account. I appeal to all Importers to enhance their Internet security to safeguard their TPIN,” Mr Kaemba stated.