Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: Strict Rules for Botswana Car Imports

The Department of Customs and Excise in the Ministry of Finance has announced the enforcement of regulations concerning the importation and transshipment of 2nd hand vehicles from Botswana.

All imports are subject to existing legislative provisions by the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) as from 28 February 2013.

According to current legislation, the importation of motor vehicles older than 5 years is prohibited.

But Namibian Customs and Excise argues that importers use Botswana only as a front to dodge the rules on the import of 2nd hand vehicles into the Southern African Customs Union.

"Vehicles are imported from outside SACU, registered for a small period within Botswana and are then imported to Namibia. This violates the 5 year importation rule and all guilty parties will be dealt with accordingly."

Another area of concern is the violation of the Botswana Customs and Excise act which clearly states "Vehicles that are temporarily imported into Botswana or in transit through Botswana may not be registered as imports for home consumption." Information provided by the ministry states that there are cases where individuals try and circumvent the above law by registering the vehicles in question as permanent imports for home consumption in Botswana which is invariably not the case.

Botswana's revenue service has taken a sturdy stance stating that offenders will have to face the full extent of the law according to the guidelines of their laws. The act stipulates, "Any person who makes a false statement in connection with any matter dealt with in this act shall, unless he proves that he was ignorant of the falsity of such statement and that such ignorance was not due to negligence on his part, be guilty of the offence and liable to a fine not exceeding P40,000, treble the value of the goods to which such statement relates or imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or to both."

Speaking to the Economist, Mr Hans Garoeb explained that Botswana lodged the complaint on a SACU level during the course of last year. "There have been serious cases of non-compliance over the past several years. The Namibian government would like to assure the public that in situations where the perpetrator is registering the vehicle in Namibia with clear violation to the understated rules, the Namibian government will take the same actions as stipulated in the act with a note that any fine will be stated in local currency (not more than N$40,000)."

Mr Garoeb who is the Deputy Director of the Division of Statistics, Tariffs and Risk Management at the Ministry of Finance stated that there is some reprieve for importers in Namibia, "It has come to our attention that the dissemination of the information was a bit slow. Therefore, on our own prerogative, a grace period has been given to those who were already in the middle of a transaction around 28 February 2013. We have therefore extended the enforcement of the law (only within Namibia) until 22 March 2013."

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