KRA's e-Tims rule pushes scrap metal smuggling to neighbouring countries

Photo credit: File /Nation Media Group

The government's requirement for all businesses to have eTims accounts has led to an increase in the smuggling of scrap metal across the border.

According to Francis Mugo, chairman of the Scrap Metal Association, the introduction of eTims is now driving most scrap metal dealers to sell their products to neighbouring countries, with Tanzania being the lead market.

"The council has not and will not allow unscrupulous businessmen to spoil the working atmosphere for others. Those smuggling scrap metal should be warned that their days are numbered," said Mr Mugo.

The Namanga, Taveta Lunga-Lunga and Busia borders have become the preferred route for traders to ply their illegal trade.

On Friday morning, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officers intercepted a trailer smuggling scrap batteries into Tanzania through Voi border post.

The trailer, with registration number KDG 039X, was intercepted just a few kilometres from the Kenya-Tanzania border.

The interception of the lorry brings to 50 the number of trailers the KRA has intercepted so far this year smuggling scrap metal into neighbouring countries.

Due to the increase in smuggling incidents, Mr Mugo said the renewal of all licences of those exporting scrap metals to neighbouring countries has now been suspended until further notice.

Mr Mugo called on scrap metal dealers across the country to always comply with the law when exporting their goods to neighbouring countries to avoid problems with the authorities.

Mr Mugo also said that the association is currently engaging various stakeholders to ensure that the vice is completely eradicated.

"These consultations are aimed at sensitising members on the need to operate within the ambit of the law," Mr Mugo said.

He noted that the full implementation of the Scrap Metal Act, 2015, will help the association address many of its shortcomings, especially in terms of staffing, to effectively carry out its mandate of tackling scrap metal smuggling.

According to the KRA, all taxpayers doing business are required to have an eTims account.

This includes taxpayers who are not registered for sales tax, monthly rental income, partnerships, corporate tax and individual income tax.

The taxman has argued that through eTims, businesses will benefit from real-time invoice transmission, which will ensure the accuracy of tax invoice declarations and the reconciliation of filed returns and payments.

However, businesses have been reluctant to adopt eTims, fearing that it is a way for the government to track their daily income and make them pay more tax.