The Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) has expressed concern with the recent strike taken by a selected number of clearing agents.
This follows the introduction of a new Customs Agent Management Module (CAMM) by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA).
EAZ President Lubinda Haabazoka says this unfortunate action comes at a time when Zambia and other countries across the globe seek to address revenue collection hurdles amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Haabazoka says the association has learnt that the CAMM is a module on the Customs Electronic Licensing System, has interface with ASYCUDA world, and allows importers and exporters to appoint up to five (5) clearing companies depending on their business needs.
He adds that this is in line with the Customs and Excise Act Cap 322, Section 29 (1).
Dr Haabazoka says gives rights to any master, pilot, or operator to appoint an agent to perform any act.
“It is important to note that tax administration in Zambia is increasingly becoming effective as the Zambia Revenue Authority automates its tax administration systems therefore reducing human contact which in-turn mitigates the risk of corruption. It is vital to note that this is not the first time certain market players are resisting the automation of the Zambian tax system,” he said.
And Dr Haabazoka has accused some clearing of agents of economic sabotage.
“Against this backdrop, the association is saddened to learn that a few individuals have decided to hold hostage the entire country by causing business disruption, which has affected operational resilience of the tax collection process at a time when government needs to collect revenue to fund salaries and other socio-economic sectors amid the COVID 19 pandemic,” he said.
And Dr Haabazoka has advised ZRA to heighten sensitization on the benefits of the system.
“The Zambia Revenue Authority is therefore, advised to proceed with the implementation of the CAMM module yet increase awareness on the benefits to its users and other stakeholders. The CAMM module does not disadvantage any Zambian owned clearing company as alleged. Clearing agents are advised to embrace new systems and procedures as these are meant to enhance transparency and productivity,” he said.