Complaint

Complaint number
NTB-001-006  
NTB Type
2.2. Arbitrary customs classification  
Complaint
AGENTS charged as a criminal offense and penalised for not attaching Permit.

Due to COVID 19 Restrictions in place for Zimbabwe small scale cross border traders their goods are now spending more days at border posts due to the long processing requirements' which they never new when they enjoyed using COMESA STR which was suspended because of COVID as they are not allowed to clear there goods at the borders . Trade is only allowed to be done through the clearing of agents, Those few traders who are using the agents are facing numerous challenges which include requirements for permits and licenses for STR qualifying goods which are beyond the reach of many thereby marginalizing the rest of the traders .

On 28 January 2021 an entry for sweets and sherbets was done by the agent at Chirundu . The Agent erroneously omitted to attach permit for bio safety and the agent was fined an astronomical figure of 400,000 RTGs and when he appealed for that decision of the amount it was doubled to 800,000 RTGS which translate to above US$8000 on the day's exchange rate. ZIMRA classified omission to attach a biosafety permit as a criminal offense attracting a fine outlined in SI 25 of 2021 the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) (Standard Scale of Fines) Notice, 2021.This notice is issued by the Minister in terms of section 280 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23]. On reading the Act, it is not clear if omission to attach a document constitute a criminal offense .

The goods now have 12 working days at the border and the consignment was for a small-scale trader who is not a company, and these are the people who live on hand to mouth trade. The level of fines for clearing agents are Punitive rather than Correctional, Agents are now afraid of clearing goods for small scale traders as they are heavily fined for omissions and errors which are a common thing in the world, Permits are cumbersome to obtain for some of them.

1. ZIMRA is urged to reconsider the classification of error from “Criminal Offense” to “Omission to attach a required document” and therefore the reduce level of fine
2. The relevant Government Department is requested to consider allowing clearance of COMESA STR goods by TIDOs during this COVID period when they get to the border under modalities to be agreed upon by the authorities.  
Progress update note
The COMESA NTB Unit on closer scrutiny of the NTB observed that this is a Non- Tariff Measure affecting Cross border traders and advised that the unit will engage Zimbabwe on the way forward to resolve this complaint  
Policy or regulatory NTB
No 
Location
Zimbabwe: Chirundu (Border post)  
Reporting Country or Region
Zimbabwe  
Country specific trade issue
No  
Date of incident
2021-01-28  
Status
In process  
Product Description
sweets and sherbets


 
Total value
0  
Date reported
2021-02-07 20:36  
Modified
2021-05-05 14:01