Import permit rethink for small businesses

07-July-2004 Speaking to the media last week, Ministry of Economic Planning principal secretary and Foreign Exchange Controller, Ahmed Afif said that the import permit requirement is being removed from private individuals and small businesses on imports of not-for-sale items. Instead of facing the import permit hurdle, small business foreign exchange requests for non-retail goods will instead be lodged with the commercial banks, along with a stamp of approval from a unit of the Ministry of Economic Planning, granted on presentation of the request and supporting documents. PS Afif acknowledged that the new system would not improve the speed at which hard currency becomes available, but said that it would make the clearing of goods upon arrival much easier. "There is no need to worry about changes to bills and orders and you can lodge subsequent requests with the bank without having to go for another import permit for short shipped goods," he said. "There were a number of problems that existed in the past as a result of the bureaucracy of having to have an import permit. Given that this has now disappeared the clearing of goods should be significantly easier because you are not obliged to justify the price and quantity prior, this is done on arrival," explained Mr Afif.

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