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CONCERN OVER LOAD-SHEDDING, SACU COULD DECLINE

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MBABANE – Local businesses that are sourcing their merchandise from South Africa (SA) are not spared from the effects of the loadshedding in that country.

Business people have had to dig deep into their pockets to pay for the goods purchased from SA at the border gate because officials from the Eswatini Revenue Service (ERS) were detecting erroneous invoices from the business people which were caused by issues of load-shedding in the neighbouring country. Load-shedding is an energy utility’s method of reducing demand on the energy generation system by temporarily switching off the distribution of energy to certain geographical areas.

Under normal circumstances, the business people simply provide an invoice to the ERS officials upon arrival at the border gate and that acts as a green light for them to pass through without having to pay extra costs. Government then takes the invoices and use them to make monetary claims from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), referred to as SACU receipts. It is the money that SACU member States share annually from the revenue they generate through the collection of custom duties. The anomaly was revealed by the Federation of  Eswatini Business Community (FESBC) Hhohho Chairperson Johannes Manikela when interviewed yesterday.

He said that the load-shedding was so enormous in SA that the invoices were prone to mistakes due to random power outages and a slow electronic system. “When making the purchases in SA, we are made to pay in advance for the merchandise and we receive the invoices once we go there for collection. In recent times, the invoices are prone to errors due to the random power outages in SA caused by the load-shedding. When we arrive at the border, they make us pay for the goods to get a gate pass because the invoices are faulty,” he said. He highlighted that this was a cause for concern to business people especially because they were doing everything right from their part but they were losing money because of the effects of load-shedding in the neighbouring country.

Advised

He advised that the Ministry of Finance should engage with them so that they deliberate on the matter and find a lasting solution, especially because it had implications even on the SACU receipts. “If this anomaly persists, there is a high chance that the SACU receipts will decline because government will have many faulty invoices on its disposal and it won’t be able to make the accurate SACU claims,” he said. Worth Mentioning is that Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg revealed on Monday that the country would get E11.75 billion in SACU receipts, which is a major increment from the E5.8 billion received in the previous year. Ministry of Finance Principal Secretary Sizakele Dlamini said the ministry was not aware of this anomaly. She stated that in such cases where there was an erroneous invoice the importer may arrange with ERS for a post declaration while working on having the invoice corrected.

Importers

“However we encourage importers to write to the Ministry of Finance to officially report these challenges so that the ministry may engage with the relevant stakeholders to resolve this issue,” she said. According to information sourced from the government website in SA on energy, the current bout of load-shedding is related to inadequate national energy supply to meet demand. This is mainly due to a large amount of unplanned maintenance required at Eskom’s aging coal-fired power stations. In addition, the new energy generation units at Medupi and Kusile have faced challenges in bringing the units online.

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