By Dominic Sikopo
Customs authorities of the Republic of Namibia and Zambia have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will strengthen ties between two sister countries on custom related matters.
Namibia Customs and Excise Commissioner Mr. Beaven Simataa, told the gathering at the meeting held in Katima Mulilo of Namibia this month that the signing of the MoU between Namibia and Zambia was a consolidation and cementing of the already existing relationship between the two neighbouring countries and was aimed at contributing more towards socio-economic growth of the two countries and the SADC region at large.
“Our region has lately seen the rapid expansion of mutually beneficial corridors which is the transmission belt for cross border infrastructural developments such as the Tans-Kalahari corridor and the Walvis Bay – Ndola- Lubumbashi Development corridor formerly known as the Trans-Caprivi corridor which opened doors to many African countries to trade competitively with global markets via the port of Walvis Bay”, explained the Commissioner.
The MoU between the two customs administration was realised after the notable increase in international movement of goods and travellers have increased significantly between Zambia and Namibia.
“For the past two decades that Namibia Customs and Excise has been in existence, many cases of illicit trade were reported along the business corridors that traverse our respective countries”, stressed Mr. Simataa.
He added that the formalisation of the MoU “will expedite our efforts to curb the escalating smuggling and illicit”.
Commissioner Simataa also promised that the MoU will not only benefit the two SADC countries in fighting smuggling but will also facilitate the sharing of information between the officials and helping each other in giving evidence in courts of law when proceeding with Customs related matters.
He cautioned that dealing in Illicit Trade and increasing smuggling do not only undermine government revenue but threatens legitimate business and undermines law and order by encouraging the formation of organised criminal syndicates which use illegal funds to finance other serious criminal activities such as terrorism, money laundering, organised crimes, illicit drugs, fire arms and human trafficking.
According to him, in the face of increasing economic insecurity posed by terrorism, customs has become the strategic government agency to monitor and ensure the entire supply chain is closely managed to prevent the proliferation of illegal trade.
“this can only be realised by enforcing customs and excise legislations as well as prohibitions and restrictions contained in legislation,in Namibia this is done in terms of section 99 of the Customs and Excise Act, Act 20 of 1998).” he said.
The Commissioner concluded by urging public members to come forward with information on any illicit activities that may be currently taking place and promised that such information will be treated with absolute confidentiality.
Also at the event was the Zambian Commissioner for Customs Services Division Mr. Dingani Banda who also explained the importance of the MoU.
“I am happy to be part of this historically signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between our two sister institutions, an MoU is one of the instruments that supports the spirit of the globally networked customs as espoused by the World Customs Organisation which encourages adjacent customs authorities to go into mutual administrative agreements”, Said Mr. Banda.
He added that the Primary purpose of such an MoU is for enhanced collaborations between the perspective parties, “another common instrument to which we ascribe to in customs equally encourages collaboration between customs besides securing the supply chain”, explained The Zambian Commissioner.
“As you may further wish to know that the joint permanent commission has further encouraged collaboration between our two respective institutions, they continue to facilitate trade across the border as well as dealing with security related matters which may arise” he said.
“Regional Intergration agenda under SADC especially the Sub-committee on customs co-operation also emphasises the need on appropriate framework on adjacent administration like ours ”.
He also reiterated that it was their expectation as Customs that the MoU and the expected information exchange will help to further enhance the quest for trade facilitation along the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Corridor.
“It is our expectation that this MoU will give output benefits to our respective administrations and most importantly to the people of our respective republics that we serve”, concluded the Zambian Commissioner.