Customs and business forum launched
The Namibia Customs and Business Forum was officially launched by the Minister of Finance in the capital on Wednesday.
The launch of the forum is a culmination of the recommendations of the initial customs and business forum workshop that was held in 2011. The forum is expected to become a bi-annual dialogue that brings together public and private sector stakeholders in the trading chain to continually assess and adopt measures that promote effective trade facilitation; enhance customs operations and higher compliance by the trading community.
The Acting Commissioner: Customs and Excise, Mr Hans //Garoeb said the launch of the forum marks another positive development in the modernisation drive of Namibia Customs and Excise. He said that Namibia Customs is obliged to implement the needed tools and mechanisms to meet the growing demand to secure and facilitate trade.
“We are left with no other option than to modernise the administration,” he said.
Various customs modernisation programmes are currently underway which include the revision of the Customs and Excise Act; the establishment of One Stop Border Posts; introduction of an advanced IT system; introduction of the Preferred Trader Programme and the introduction of the Single-Window concept.
//Garoeb said the Namibia Custom and Business Forum will enable the setting up of a platform where public and private sector can share ideas and exchange information, identify common areas of interest to both parties and challenges that emanate from these with a view to reach consensus on solutions, and promote targeted capacity building initiatives that would enhance compliance and acceptable levels of service delivery, among others.
Minister Saara Kuungogelwa-Amadhila said she was confident that the forum will further enhance consultations, promote information exchange and cooperation, and reduce the barriers to the smooth flow of trade by jointly identifying bottlenecks and offering practical solutions.
She said changing trading practices and patterns should prompt all stakeholders to work more closely together, double their efforts to co-operate nationally and beyond, establish a new dynamic relationship, and take bold initiatives aimed at simplification, greater transparency, predictability, effectiveness, efficiency and fair and reasonable formulation and application of regulations, rules and procedures.
“I believe that consultations between the customs administration and representatives of trading and transport communities are important to discuss new developments and recognise problem areas. Without formal consultations with the trade, customs will not be able to draft laws and regulations that address the needs of the business community,” the minister said.
Harald Schmidt ,a representative of the Namibia Logistics Association said his association applauds Government’s resolve to embrace and implement programmes of customs modernisation. He said while the roll-out of the legislative framework and operational programmes will be a phased approach, industry welcomes every step taken towards trade facilitation.
He added that trade facilitation is key to continued trade growth as highlighted in a World Bank study which indicated that 75% of delays worldwide are facilitation related and only 25% are infrastructure related.