Local business operators have appealed to Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) to relax extra costs charged for their trucks to be cleared to import goods from neighboring countries.
The charges are related to the new clearance guidelines that were issued due to Covid-19 and published on the Rwanda Trade Information Portal, for traders and other stakeholders on how to clear goods while preventing the spread of the pandemic.
A fee of Rwf 35,000 is being charged on each truck to facilitate the police to escort them, having been given a go-ahead to clear their goods in Kigali for special reasons.
For trucks importing goods to Rwanda through Rusumo One-Stop Border Post in Eastern Province, truck drivers are supposed to pass by Kiyanzi Dry Port near the border where drivers undergo Covid-19 tests and clear their goods before continuing their journey.
According to Faradjallah Ndagano, the Company Relations Affairs Manager at Bakhresa Grain Milling Rwanda Ltd (Azam), a grain milling plant located at the Kigali Special Economic Zone, at least 20 trucks import wheat to Rwanda every day and each truck is charged Rwf35 000.
“When you count the cost paid within a month, it is such a huge extra amount, yet these are raw materials we are importing. I think RRA should adjust that because the prices of our products on the market may increase if nothing is done. In the end, it will be the consumer to feel the pinch,” Ndagano said.
Commenting on the issue, Pascal Bizimana Ruganintwali, the Commissioner-General of Rwanda Revenue Authority, said his office is looking into the issue and assured that it will be solved soon, now that a new GPS system has been introduced to monitor the trucks itinerary.
“We can assure the issue will be solved as soon as possible because we can monitor the trucks wherever we are. I hope it can be solved within a week,” he said.
This was one of the issues that taxpayers raised during the Special Customer Service Initiative, a week-long activity during which the Commissioner General and other senior managers will be visiting a number of taxpayers to create a room to not only encourage them about tax compliance and the use of electronic billing machine but also hear from their concerns which the revenue body may consider to solve to create a conducive environment for investors.
The visit on Tuesday took place at both Bakhresa Grain Milling Rwanda Ltd (Azam) and Viva Products Ltd, both located at the Kigali Special Economic Zone, Masoro.
Manufacturers also requested RRA to open a new office at the Special Economic zones to reduce expenses and time spent going look for services in bonded warehouses such as MAGERWA or DP World.
“We have a suggestion to them to open an office here because I think their presence at this place will help investors and manufacturers here to be able to get faster services,” said Ali Manji, the Managing Director of Viva Products Ltd, which manufactures mattresses.
On the same agenda, the Revenue body’s administration targets to reach more investors who have investments in Rwanda throughout this week.
Ruganintwali said his office will take note of all the issues raised by investors during this week and find solutions accordingly.
To ensure efficient communication with investors, Ruganintwali revealed that RRA has introduced a special ‘Investors’ Desk’, an online platform through which investors can share any issues or complaints for the revenue body to solve them as soon as possible.
“We want to have a special desk for investors so we can interact with them and take care of their issues as soon as we can. Some might seem not familiar with taxes in Rwanda and may need to learn more information from us. I believe this platform will help to facilitate them to operate their business in a conducive environment,” he said.
RRA Commissioner-General Pascal Ruganintwari is flanked by Ali Manji, the Managing Director of Viva Products Ltd, and other officials at the plant during the tour by RRA officials to different facilities in the Special Economic Zone. / Dan Nsengiyumva
Ruganintwali and Rosine Uwamariya, the Commissioner for Customs, interacting with investors at Kigali Special Economic Zone. / Dan Nsengiyumva
The Azam Rwanda had—as taxpayers—the opportunity to explain how they produce their products on October 27, 2020. / Dan Nsengiyumva