MoT’s tough stance on illegal trade

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The Ministry of Trade is determined to set up a special task force to crack down on illegal traders involved in contraband trade and manipulation of receipts and transactions. The Ministry said there are strong indications that Ethiopia is losing billions of birr every month from unpaid import duties, owing to fraudulent importers who under-invoice goods they imported to diminish import taxes.
In 2012, the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) implemented an online system for imported products to combat under invoicing. Nevertheless, the system has not delivered the expected outcome.
Abdurahman Seid, Vice Head of Communication sat the Ministry, told Capital that the new structure will help improve collection of appropriate taxes from importers. He pointed out that ordinary and inexpensive goods taxed at low rates are sold to buyers for exuberant prices. Such products often make their way to markets dodging customs’ checkpoints, he said, but the new structure would tackle exactly these scams.
“I can’t say how much the country has lost every year because of fake invoices, but I can boldly say that such crime is widely practiced,” he said.
Abdurahman added that the Ministry will raise standards to ensure that good quality products make it into to the country.
“Currently we have only 151 compulsory standards, which focus on preventing damage to human health and the environment. Now we are seeing that some business use the country as a dumping ground for their products, which hurts consumers. So we are in the process of adding on to the number of compulsory standards in imported goods,” he noted.
Some business experts suggest that the customs office should modernize;with special regard to a system of controlled invoices, assignment of budget accounts and preparation of check requests in response to vendor invoices, payment of utility bills, license fees, municipal taxes and contract oversight.