Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has suspended registration of container freight station operators and that of clearing agents at the Port of Mombasa as it moves to secure the country’s ‘porous’ border from tax evasion and economic crimes.
All freight stations will undergo fresh vetting in far reaching reforms to weed out unscrupulous forwarding agents from the trade logistics supply chain sector.
Consequently the taxman has issued a stern warning to perpetrators of fraud in the customs process as it heightens surveillance at the Port.
“Because of the weak regulatory regime, the clearing and Forwarding business continues to attract persons of dubious character and for whom no effective disciplinary regime exists,” said KRA Commissioner General, John Njiraini.
Appointment of the Authority’s first Head of Enforcement and Border Control within the Customs and Border Control Department, is scheduled for this week.
“In order to correct this anomaly, process has already commenced to develop a legal framework to govern the training, certification, licensing and regulation of Clearing and Forwarding Agents,” he said.
Underlining the seriousness attached to the ongoing vetting process, Njiraini pointed it out that CFSs that fail to meet the prescribed requirements within the time frame provided shall be struck off the register and become ineligible to receive un-Customed cargo.
Plans to professionalize the Clearing and Forwarding sector, Njiraini said have already commenced as part of efforts to weed out rogue clearing and Forwarding agents.
The Authority has already moved to upgrade its Simba Customs Managment platform, which has also been integrated with National Electronic Single Window System, popularly known as the Kenya TradeNet.
KRA has also commenced the implementation of the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking Platform agreed between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
The new system, provides the regional revenue authorities with a seamless visibility for all transit cargo from Mombasa to Kigali and eventually Juba.
“This approach, will remove the opportunities presently exploited by crooks at the changeover of seals at border points by requiring affixation of only one seal to be disarmed on arrival at destination,” Njiraini noted.
Ongoing Customs management reforms, will also focus on the elimination of intermediaries, who currently handle tasks such as Shippers Manifest Submission. The Authority, he said, has already made significant progress and expects to commence pilot tests with key Shipping Lines by March 2016.
The role of intermediaries, has in the past been cited as a major avenue used for Customs declaration manipulation meant to support fraudulent importation.
The Authority, Njiraini, assured, is confident that the ongoing reform measures shall greatly enhance revenue mobilization besides helping tackle integrity challenges.