TPDF, TRA launch probe to nab Isles tax evaders
By Mwinyi Sadallah, Zanzibar
The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), in collaboration with the Tanzania People`s Defence Forces (TPDF), has launched an all-out investigation to nab civilians involved in massive tax evasion at Malindi port using army tax exemption permits.
Impeccable sources which commented on the initial results of the preliminary investigation revealed that a clandestine clique of traders repeatedly took advantage of the tax exemption permit to clear private cargo denying the government a lot of revenue.
``The probe team has started going through all the documents used in the clearing of cargo to identify people behind the imported materials, the loss incurred by the government and the army procurement officers believed to have collaborated with the businessmen to cheat on revenue,`` one of the sources revealed.
Information gathered further revealed that TRA Investigation Bureau (IB) officials were working on final details of the dubious transactions implicating TPDF procurement officers in Zanzibar.
TRA Zanzibar Deputy Commissioner Mcha Hassan confirmed the start of the joint operation to find out who these people are, for how long they have been involved in the rip off and the loss incurred in the course of their shoddy deals,`` he said.
He said all those discovered to have taken part in the scam would not only face legal measures, but would also be made to pay back all the taxes evaded.
As for the army investigation team, the sources said, scrutiny of all documents used by the implicated clearing agents had also begun, so as to bring to justice all behind the gross misuse of the permit.
The latest development was seizure by the army team of documents belonging to two cargo dealers at Zanzibar port. The documents entailed importation of two containers loaded with khanga from India.
``The army officers came to us and demanded our business records of which I had no reason to deny them. We gave them the documents as we are confident that our company is not involved in any shoddy deals,``one of the cargo dealers explained.
Registration numbers of the two 20-feet confiscated containers are MEDU 3121061DV 2210 and MSU 21691222G1 received in March this year. The traders were supposed to pay 120m/- in revenue.
It was revealed that the army exemption permit was also misused to clear yet another consignment of 50 containers of cement ferried in by `M.V. Chaneca` from Pakistan.
Businesses currently under investigation are Zanzibar and Mainland Military shops and Zanzibar Military Duty Free Shop both situated at the army headquarters in Migombani area. When contacted TPDF spokesman Alfred Mbowe promised to speak on the issue today.