The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) today destroyed about 300 smuggled bricks of cigarettes worth over K1 billion at the Livingstone City Council’s dump site.
Speaking in an interview with ZANIS, Zambia Revenue Authority Corporate Communications Manager, Mumbuna Kufekisa, said the move was taken in accordance with the Food and Drugs Act Chapter 295 of the Laws of Zambia as well as the Public Health Act.
Mr Kefekisa said the cigarettes were smuggled into the country between November 2013 and July 2014.
“The cigarettes were being smuggled into the country on bicycles which often carry groceries and fruits being imported in petty consignments from neighbouring Zimbabwe,” he said.
He said the destroyed cigarettes included brands such as Gold Remington, Pacific Blue Seville’s, Kingsgate, Everest and Kingdom, adding that they did not have cigarette stamps from the Zambia Revenue Authority as required by law.
Mr Kufekisa explained that the smuggling of goods had a negative effect on the economy as it resulted in huge revenue losses for the government.
“Smuggling distorts market prices which in turn affects the manufacturing industries. The end result is unfair competition on trading grounds and also distortion of the economy”, he said.
He further added that that registered companies dealing in tobacco were at risk of closing down and the closure of such companies would mean loss of employment for many people in the country.
Mr Kufekisa said ZRA would tighten measures and ensure people who brought goods in the country followed the right procedures and paid the right amount of tax.
He has since warned smugglers not to expect sympathy but face the full wrath of the law once caught.