The Ministry of Finance has defended the decision to stop clearing agents from using third party bonds in the clearing of goods in transit through Namibia as it was prejudicing the state's revenue.
Deputy Minister Calle Schlettwein says the directive issued by the Commissioner of Customs & Excise did not ban clearing agents "from practising their calling", but rather contained a directive curtailing a practise that compromised state revenue.
"More specifically, it was aimed at those bonds (being used to secure the transit of goods through Namibia) that contravened specific clauses in such bond instruments itself stipulating that it was not transferable, or bond instruments that did not contain such a stipulation but where some clearing agents could not present a written authorization from the guarantor or a cession contract by the guarantor or principal surety that authorised the usage of their bonds."
Schlettwein says putting the bond system on a sound legal footing is in everyone's interest, and should be welcomed.
The deputy minister, however, says he agrees that the directive could have given the regional heads of customs a lead time to discuss and clarify the matter with those affected, and to allow them time to make alternative arrangements.
Section 17 (7) of the Customs and Excise Act No 20 of 1998, stipulates that no importer may move goods in transit without furnishing a security in the form, nature and amount that the Commissioner may in writing require, and that such security must be sufficient to cover all possible duties and taxes to be paid should such goods not be duly cleared and exported.
Although the Customs and Excise Act does not require that the Commissioner should prescribe the exact form of all bonds as commercial security instruments, Schlettwein says most of them contain non-transferable provisions, which would invalidate the security should this not be adhered to.
The deputy minister says since the time that the directive was issued, wider consultations involving the 'smaller' clearing agents, the Logistics Association of Namibia, the Walvis Bay Ports Authority and the Erongo Regional Council have taken place to determine the way forward.
In the meantime, the ministry says it is willing to consider motivated submissions for alternative, commercially sound, arrangements for all operational scenarios to be submitted by 22nd September 2012. It was not immediately clear what these "alternative, commercially sound, arrangements" are expected to be.