30 January 2014

Zambia: 'ZRA Was Not Consulted Over Border Tender'

THE Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) says it was not consulted in the process of awarding a cancelled tender to Baran Investments of the United Kingdom under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework to manage infrastructure at Kasumbalesa border.

ZRA Commissioner General Berlin Msiska said there was no extensive consultation with key stakeholders on the design of the Kasumbalesa border facility, in particular the processing hall to suit the standard operations environment for various Government agencies.

Mr Msiska said this in a submission to the parliamentary watchdog committee on Communication and Transport chaired by MMD Senga Hill Member of Parliament (MP) Kapembwa Simbao.

He said a number of concerns had been noticed in the operations of the border post by the concessionaire.

Mr Msiska said the processing hall did not suit the standard operations environment which required that there be an open counter cash office.

He said contrary to the requirements, the hall had secluded offices which were against the transparency policy.

"The developer wielded too much control including over mandates of Government agencies operating at the border," Mr Msiska said.

He said there were also general complaints by the public that the Kasumbalesa border facility crossing fees set by the concessionaire were too high.

"This contributes to the escalation of smuggling as crossing fees were viewed as a factor in increasing the cost of doing business across all frontiers. Small-scale traders in particular have expressed concern over these fees," he said.

Mr Msiska said the high crossing fees had also contributed to congestion at the border as many drivers were spending days in the yard due to lack of money.

He said after the concessionaire left following the cancellation of the contract, the employment status of 162 employees that were left behind by the concessionaire was not clearly defined.

There was also lack of technical support for the highly automated computerised systems as the vendors engaged by the concessionaire were not keen to enter into support agreements with ZRA for fear of legal repercussions.

Baran Investments was given a 20-year concession to design, develop and operate the Kasumbalesa border, but that was cancelled.

Mr Msiska said there were also security concerns as a result of the concessionaire and called on Government to guard against national security in the award of PPPs in border areas.

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