|Tough times for clearing agents|
|Written by Floris Steenkamp|
|Wednesday, 08 August 2012 21:11|
SMALLER operators in Namibia’s freight forwarding and clearing industry have been dealt a devastating blow recently, following the issuing of a directive by the Department of Customs and Excise in the Ministry of Finance stipulating that no third party guarantees will be allowed anymore in the clearing of bonded goods.The practice had been ongoing for an extensive period, whereby clearing agents and bond warehouses allow third parties, unrelated to their business, to use their guarantees for the removal of goods from bonded facilities. This practice was used mostly by smaller operators who did not have guarantees in place, but relied on bigger operators’ guarantees.
Customs and Excise authorities said the main reason the practice has been discontinued is because it poses a challenge to the administration and control of guarantees in events where liabilities are incurred by these third parties.
Any person or company clearing goods with customs and excise can now only use a guarantee issued in such a person or company’s name, otherwise the process will not be allowed. Stakeholders in the clearing industry said this week that smaller operators who do not have access to sufficient guarantees are faced with the choice of going out of business or referring their business to the bigger operators, who have guarantees in place. Customers of smaller operators will also likely migrate to bigger operators in order to smooth the process of having goods cleared from bonded facilities.
Other industry stakeholders said they do not have a problem with the customs authorities imposing the new rules, but said they would equally want customs authorities to clamp down on other areas where currently they slack off, such as the bonded transit of foreign vehicles through the port of Walvis Bay to several southern African destinations.
Customs authorities allow vehicles cleared and released from the port of Walvis Bay, but in most instances these vehicles do not leave Namibia’s borders in the time-frame provided for in customs legislation and it leads to bottlenecks and opens avenues for the evasion of customs and import duties. These bonded vehicles are a chronic source of headaches for the municipal traffic authorities of Walvis Bay, as these vehicles are parked overnight and often for days on end in the town’s streets, making traffic regulation more difficult and these vehicles are used to transport cargo and passengers, though not permitted by law.