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Business Community Twice Dissatisfied with Customs Authority Talks



The Federal Revenue and Customs Authority (RCuA) holds a second round of talks with the business community, although the discussions hardly narrowed the differences between the two sides nor offered any desired answers to the business community.

The discussion involved the use of cash register machines and tax issues. The Authority stressed that the use of cash register machines was an obligation in every business transaction including the construction sector and the door-to-door delivery of beverages.

The cash register machine was designed by the tax authority to substitute manual receipts. This device is equipped with a technology that automatically transfers sales data to the central database at the Revenue and Customs Authority (RCuA).

The practicality of using these machines for door-to-door delivery and advance payment was a major point of discussion on the second meeting which took place on September 8, 2009.

 “Does this mean we are supposed to give everyone of our drivers a cash register?” a baffled participant asked. 

Packed milk delivery was undertaken by several drivers at a time, and this businessman wondered how the cash register could possibly be used as told the authorities. The official responses would not satisfy this and the nearly 300 other businesspeople who filled the conference room at the Ras Hotel.

VAT had to be deducted in advance from the total amount of milk given to each distribution vehicle the officials said.

“We can not consider whatever goes out of the store as sold,” commented Tadesse Tilahun, chief executive officer of National Oil Company.

He was continuing the argument which he started at the first meeting two months ago at Harmony Hotel.

The businesspeople also expressed their concerns on the calculation of tax, duty free imports, and the issue dump trucks having to pay VAT. They asked for an improved service at customs checkpoints, to stop fighting under-invoicing by using price lists from the Authority’s database.

The gathered businesspeople, who asked spontaneous questions to the authorities, were like the previous gathering two months in that both groups seemed to have little interest in what the RCuA officials were saying. Some even walked out when the meeting was about to end considering it a waste of time.

“This is just useless,” a participant who was walking out of the meeting told Fortune. “We did not get anything we came to hear from them.”

“This meeting was meant to narrow our differences,” Buzayehu Tadesse, a participant from Africa Insurance told Fortune.

A participant who accused the Authority of not revealing how it did some of its tax calculations called the officials, dictators. This meeting was attended by about 200 less people than the previous meeting. A third meeting is not likely. The officials have extended their invitations to the businesspeople to visit their offices with any of their concerns with the activities of the Authority.





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