Mbabane: Manzini North Member of Parliament Macford Sibandze says Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg, is shooting the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the foot by implementing the seven-year cap for importing used cars.
Currently, Minister Rijkenberg tabled his response at the House of Assembly on Monday, where he said in view of the submissions by the House of Assembly, he would as a balancing act, review the seven-year age limit currently in force and the new proposed age limit would be eight years.
In an interview with this publication, MP Sibandze argued that the finance minister is crippling the idea of growing the SME sector in the country. Sibandze said early this year, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo declared this year as the year for SMEs in Eswatini, but Minister Rijkenberg’s law is a core contradiction to that.
Sibandze argued that most of this imported vehicles are used by small business owners categorised as SMEs, so implementing such legislation will cripple them as they will not be able to run their businesses and they might definitely shut down.
Minister Rijkenberg indicated that the move to reduce the age limit for second hand vehicles imported from outside of SACU, from 15 years to seven years was informed by the negative impact of their importation on the country’s SACU revenue share, safety, environment, as well as human health.
He also mentioned that it has been observed that there was a rampant under-declaration of these vehicles, which negatively impacted on the overall revenue collection from this subsector.
However, MP Sibandze argued that these theories does not hold water, hence Rijkenberg should advance other theories. Sibandze highlighted that the issue of SACU revenue has nothing to do with the importation of the aforementioned vehicles. He mentioned that the SACU revenues are distributed on the basis of each country’s share of total SACU gross domestic product (GDP), a proxy for the value of excisable goods consumed.
Sibandze also argued that the issue of environment being affected by this cars is also off-side though he could not elaborate on that saying he will break it down at the House of Assembly during the debate on this issue. The debate is scheduled for Thursday.
On another note, MP Sibandze argued that the issue of Namibia and Lesotho using the eight-year age limit is not a fact because Namibia is having her own car manufacturing/assembly firm. He also said for Lesotho, it is on a ban for certain reasons, hence it cannot be used as an example.
Sibandze said the government should bear in mind that this issue is not only about the Asians alone but also some of emaSwati who runs this industry.
Moreover, Sibandze said the government should also consider allowing the nation to recover from the pandemic which has been plaguing the globe.
“The poorer are the ones who will bear the brunt,” Sibandze said.
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