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MANZINI – About E28 million has gone down the drain, so claims import car dealerships.
This amount of money, according to the import car dealerships, will be lost due to the twist in their trade in the country.

These entrepreneurs purport that the introduction of the Used Vehicles Import Permit Specification Notice, 2020, has resulted in them being denied import permits to bring into the country automobiles they had purchased leading to the pronouncement of the new legislation.

The notice came into force on August 28, 2020 and it revoked Legal Notice No. 80 of 2012. The new notice was issued by Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg.
The import car dealerships are responsible for bringing into the country grey cars, which were dubbed ‘Dubais’ from the early years of the millennium.


According to freedictionary.com, grey import vehicles are new or used motor vehicles and motorcycles legally imported from another country through channels other than the maker’s official distribution system.
The proprietors of dealerships specialising in these vehicles claimed that the E28 million was derived from the fact that they purchased between 500 and 1 100 units of automobiles per month.

The notice that was published in a Government Gazette compels import car dealerships to only introduce into the country vehicles not older than seven years. This has resulted in them seeking audience with Rijkenberg over the challenges they, together with their clients, would face.

In light of the introduction of this legislation, some import car dealerships claimed that last week, they were not awarded import permits for vehicles they had ordered before the notice issued by the minister became law.


This, they claimed, had resulted in them being caught between a rock and a hard place as they did not know how they were to bring the cars into the country.

Eswatini Import Car Dealership Association’s Imitiaz Sahi, speaking on behalf of the industry players, claimed that he had engaged some proprietors in the industry and they all claimed that they were not issued import permits but were informed that the ministry was still consulting on whether they should be given the permits.

Sahi claimed that he had gathered that there were over 1 000 automobiles that were held at ports of entry that were yet to be brought into the country.

He stated that on average, 1 000 vehicles could amount to between E28 million and E40 million. This, he purported, was because their import value varied and so did the brands.

For example, he said: “To bring a Honda Fit into the country can cost about E28 000 while bringing a BMW X1 can amount to over E90 000. So, the money we may lose is too high.”


Sahi, as the association’s representative, claimed to have been informed of the recent developments following the introduction of the new legislation.
“Some people have contacted me saying they were being turned away when seeking import permits,” he said.
The import car dealership proprietor also said some of the car dealers had found a notice at the offices where the import permits were granted, advising them to note that if they intended to import a motor vehicle, it would not be approved if the vehicle was older than seven years.

The notice pinned on the door reads: “Please note that if you intend to import a motor vehicle, no import permit will be approved for an application for a vehicle which is more than seven years.”

On the other hand, the Communications Officer in the Ministry of Finance, Setsabile Dlamini, said: “Issuing (of import permits) under the new regulations started this week. Of course, those who bought older models prior to the new regulations will be able to get them into the country.”

This was after this publication had sought the ministry’s input on whether the grievances raised by the import car dealerships were genuine and also, she was asked to assist with information on whether the ministry had stopped granting the import permits for same.

Dlamini was asked if there had been any notice informing the import car dealership proprietors and or their agents that import permits were no longer issued for vehicles that were older than seven years.

To this, she said: “There is no grace period necessarily, the ministry is just anticipating that issues of those who had already purchased the cars prior to the new regulations would have all run through the system in the next three months.”


However, the dealers claimed they were not informed about the fact that they could get permits if they had purchased the cars before the notice came into effect.

They also alleged that some of them, upon learning of this new development, went back to the ministry but were still turned back.
The dealers further claimed that most of the ordered cars were beyond the seven years stipulated by government.

Meanwhile, leading to this, Eswatini Import Car Dealers Association had a consultative meeting with Rijkenberg last Friday on the Used Motor Vehicles Import Permit Specification Notice 2020. Rijkenberg confirmed that he had the meeting with the dealerships association and said it was consultative and he presented to them the reasons why government was pursuing the legislation.
The minister introduced the legislation to exercise controls on the age restriction of the vehicles and his decision was based on Southern African Customs Union (SACU) revenues.
It is anticipated that the country wants to enhance its share of SACU revenues and for it to improve; more imports within SACU would result in improved receipts for kingdom.
The minister said a number of things were shared during the consultation, however, in order to have it on record, he requested that the car dealership association present their mitigation plans through a written document.

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