Importers get better acquainted with trade-related government bodies


Importers and wholesalers during the meeting yesterday with trade-related government bodies

The meeting, which attracted a good number of traders, was organised by the FTC and held at the headquarters of the Liaison Unit for Non-Governmental Organisations (Lungos) at the Orion Mall building.

FTC chief executive Daniel Gappy said the organisation is primarily concerned about consumer welfare.
As an enforcement agent, it has, since its setting up two years ago, received 264 complaints of which 68 involved services and the rest goods.

He said the FTC is presently dealing with 10 competition cases.
Mike Laval of the trade department explained that the body ensures trade is done according to legal norms. He said imports totalled R11.8 billion in 2010 – the bulk being machinery, fuel and foods.

Mr Laval also noted that most taxes were collected from imports of fuel, motor vehicles, alcohol and tobacco.

Assistant commissioner in the Customs division, Selwyn Knowles, said the division’s main function is to control imports at all entry points, ensure that legal taxes are collected and that no prohibited goods enter the country.

Responding to questions from traders, he said containers are usually stopped for thorough searches if it is found to contain items that require an import permit or must meet standards.

There is also the risk assessment linked to the past records of importers taken into consideration to determine the clearance of containers.

The traders present were particularly interested to know more of the Value Added Tax (Vat) which will replace the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July.

Mr Knowles said Vat will be applied at the same rate as GST, which is 15%. One trader said that with only a few months before Vat comes into force, the mechanisms to identify goods to which Vat will be applied, remains unclear.

It was also suggested that Vat would push up the cost of living since it will be applied at the rear end – after the trader has levied his profit – rather than at the front end.

An official of the Small Enterprises Promotion Agency (Senpa) voiced fears that local crafts could price themselves out of the market since importers of raw materials, retailers and eventually the craftsmen themselves would be inclined to add on their own Vats.

The issue of Vat was such a major preoccupation for traders that Luciana Lagrenade of the FTC informed them that the Revenue Commission intends to hold a special presentation on the subject soon and they should all attend to get everything clear and avoid misconceptions.

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