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Containers Held Up, New Import Taxes

Containers Held Up, New Import Taxes

From 1 January, importers will no longer be able to unpack containers from the back of a truck and will have to pay new taxes.

Importers will also have to comply with new red tape and can expect significant delays. The changes are part of a new system designed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).

Every container will have to be accompanied by a paper form signed by the overseas exporter (this will be waived for a while, as exporters had not been informed). The importer or his agent will have to fill out another paper form and fax it to MAF, to get permission to move the container off the wharf.

Containers can only be moved to warehouses that have been approved by MAF. The importers will then have to wait to get yet another permit, before he can call the truck to come back for a second trip and take the empty container away. It will no longer be feasible to unload a container while the truck driver waits.

To pay for all this bureaucracy, MAF will charge importers (via shipping companies) $8.75 per container. Importers will also have to pay the fees charged by their brokers to apply for permits.

To unpack containers at their premises, importers will need to send some of their staff to a course on bug spotting. MAF intend to offer these courses on the web, but have not yet developed a website. Meantime, MAF will approve the premises of anyone who registers for the courses.

If there is any problem with the paperwork, the container will be classified as "high risk" and inspection fees of $72.30 + GST plus travel expenses will be incurred. If an insect, snake or Algerian refugee is found, then a $ 130.00 + GST 'identification of species' fee will be charged, unless it is found by a MAF-approved bug spotter. Any treatment cost will be charged to the importer.

MAF decided not to use the data currently transmitted by importers to Customs (they are looking into this) and instead set up a parallel paper-based data collection system, similar to what Customs had back in the Eighties. This is costly; importers have no option but to pay for it.

We predict that there will be significant delays and object to the substantial new costs imposed on importers.

The Importers Institute supports the idea of MAF training importers on basic bug detection techniques. We do not support the mind-boggling red tape created - without consultation - to implement it. Simply requiring importers to keep a log and auditing them would achieve the same without bloating the bureaucracy, but perhaps that is the real point of this exercise.

We have today asked the Minister of Biosecurity, Jim Sutton, to order a moratorium on the new system and will advise you of his reply.

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