ONGWEDIVA – The Ministry of Finance has been intensifying its crackdown on fake products entering the country, much to the chagrin of business owners selling “counterfeit” brand names.
Some business owners have accused the customs officials of removing non-counterfeit items from their imported goods.
Last year, a group of local importers also marched to the finance ministry to register their grievances, while there have been a number of sting operations in Windhoek targeting Chinese shops.
Counterfeit goods worth millions of dollars have in the past also been confiscated.
Finance ministry spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu did not deny or confirm allegations implicating customs officials in illegal seizures.
According to Shidhudhu, mechanisms have been put in place to address the illegal confiscation of goods, while focusing on enforcing the law and clearing procedures in order to ensure that taxes and duties are paid.
“We wish to point out that if a parcel is opened and non-branded clothing are found, customs procedures will apply and thereafter the items will be released to the owner,” said Shidhudhu.
Counterfeit items are confiscated and later destroyed.
In addition to counterfeit goods, items such as medicine, cream, chemicals, detergents and anything else that does not conform to health requirements as mandated by the Namibia Medicine Regulatory Council (NMRC) are also confiscated for health reasons.
He said the confiscation of imported parcels and other goods is part of the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act and World Trade Organisation (WTO) Treaty on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights to which Namibia is a party.
He added that the treaty provides for agreements that relate to border measures required to be taken for providing protection against infringement of property rights at all entry points.
However, once goods are found to be counterfeit, the right holder provides an affidavit to substantiate the claim with the support of registration from the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (Bipa).
Thereafter, the importer is also given 14 working days to make an objection in writing to the Commissioner of Customs and Excise of which an extension of a further 14 days can also be given should the importer find that the timeframe given is not sufficient.
Shidhudhu urged members of the public to comply with the laws in place, adding smuggling of counterfeit products is a serious crime, which can lead to heavy administrative fines.
“We urge the public at large as well as importers and exporters to acquaint themselves with the Customs and Excise import, export and transit requirements and procedures before trading in, importing or exporting goods,” said Shidhudhu.
2019-10-10 07:13:27 4 days ago