Monday, 11 February 2013

Lake Kivu traders decry double taxation


Traders loading a boat with cattle in Karongi district district awaiting transportation to DRC via Rubavu district.
Traders working in districts around Lake Kivu have accused tax collectors of double taxation. The traders said they pay fees at the point of departure and while offloading their merchandise at the various destinations and markets around the lake.  

They said the practice was illegal and eats into their profits.

Jean Claude Habyarimana, a resident of Karongi district and livestock trader, told The New Times that, according to the law, one is supposed to pay tax once for any given commodity when going to the market. 

“We know that no commodity should be taxed more than once...We also want the government to clarify on taxable and non-taxable goods,” he noted.

The mostly affected business people are from Rubavu, Rutsiro, Karongi and Rusizi districts.

Residents also accuse the tax collectors of forcing some passengers on boats to pay taxes on non-trade items.

“Most of the times, they impose taxes on all the commodities loaded and offloaded on a boat without considering whether they are for trade or domestic use,” said Everest Habiyambere, a resident of Rubavu district, who regularly transports produce from his gardens in Rutsiro district.

A bunch of bananas, which costs about Rwf2,000 is charged Rwf100 market fees at any destination around the lake. 

Local authorities said the tax collectors actions were illegal.

Ezechiel Nsengiyumva, the Rubavu district vice-mayor in charge of economic development, blamed the contractors hired to collect taxes for the mix-up.

“It is only when you take goods to the market that you are supposed to pay tax. Forcing people to pay along the way is not allowed. People should also never be made to pay taxes when they are transporting their produce,” he explained, adding that they would investigate the matter and take appropriate action.

All the tax collectors at the lake shore markets in Rubavu district declined to comment on the issue.


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