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Members of the Ethiopian Tour Operators Association (ETOA) request a special information desk for corruption related tips at the Anti Corruption Commission.
The association and its members, who complained on several occasions about tax related issues and the measure on duty free cars by the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA), said that they requested the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEAC) to arrange special information desk to cater for the complaints pouring from the association.
On Friday members of ETOA discussed the issue at the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage hall.
Sources said that the association that has over 169 members aims to put together the corruption tips from its members to submit to the commission.
“The meeting has two aims, the first one is to express our support to the Anti Corruption Commission that is taking measures on ERCA officials on alleged corruption and tax fraud issues, and the second is to discuss with our members about submitting the corruption tips to the commission in an organised manner,” board member of ETOA, told Capital. He said that members of the association have evidences incriminating the suspects under custody. “We requested a separate desk at the commission to handle tips coming from us because our case is wide and needs a separate file,” the official said. He said that the association will submit its request to the commission on Monday May 20 about the formation of special information desk.
“During the past three years, ERCA officials have been taking measures against the law and the rules and regulations and decisions of higher government offices, or they have mislead high government officials to take measure against us,” top management of the association said.
On different occasions the association and its members have voiced their complaints about the measures taken by ERCA.
For instance, recently tour and travel companies, whose vehicles were seized by ERCA, protested that while they were expecting the imminent release of their properties, ERCA delayed the matter defying orders given by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) to resolve the issue.
Sources at the association told Capital that about 32 vehicles belonging to 26 companies, imported under the duty-free scheme, have been seized by the Authority, starting two years ago until as recently as six weeks ago, on the grounds that they were being illegally used by tour companies for purposes other than it was intended for.
Two months ago Sufian Ahmed, Minister of MoFED, ordered officials of ERCA to re-evaluate the issue on a case-by-case basis and release the vehicles against which there is no factual evidence of illegal use. “Even though the Minister had ordered the authority to resolve the matter in a short time, ERCA continued to seize additional vehicles belonging to tour operators as recently as six weeks ago,” the official explained.
The Authority and tour operators have been in dispute for the past few years after ERCA confiscated their duty free imported vehicles on the above stated grounds. Tour operators on their part claim that ERCA confiscated their properties randomly and is not taking into consideration the role Tourism plays in the country’s development. Tour operators complained that their properties are falling apart because they are not being used.
The other issue that created controversy between ERCA and the tour companies is the issue of VAT. On this issue ERCA demanded over 100 million birr accrued tax from few tour companies.
According to the tour operators, they have been one of the major sources for FEAC and the Prime Minister’s Office to address the mismanagement at ERCA.