Govt. sells seized vehicles

Eight imported cars seized from drivers who had failed to pay duties on them will be put on the auction block by the Ministry of Customs and Revenue.

The auction of the vehicles, including a 2009 model Mercedes with a starting bid of $7,000, was meant to take place yesterday.

This was postponed due to the imposition of a state of emergency as a result of the measles outbreak. 

The Ministry of Customs and Revenue Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.), Matafeo Avalisa Viali – Fautua’ali’i, said the eight vehicles had been seized because members of the public had not paid duty on them. 

She said the vehicles were seized by the Ministry after its owners were placed on a Deferral Scheme, allowing the Customs Comptroller to consider late payment of duties due to undue hardship but had still failed to make payments. 

“The Comptroller may, subject to conditions as determined by the Comptroller to release [imported goods] from the control of Customs and accept payment of duty by installment over specified period,” she said. 

“This only applies to individual residents of the wider public who are importing personal vehicles and were not able to pay full duties with taxes. 

“Overseas residents and the business community are not qualified under this scheme."

The vehicles are roadworthy, the Ministry insisted, despite the year some were made exceeding ten years. 

The C.E.O. said the individual’s vehicles under the Deferral scheme have been used on roads once released from Customs when imported and registered at the Land Transport Authority during the duration of the Deferred Agreement. 

“But due to outstanding unpaid duties after the agreement period, they were seized by Customs from the owners [or] importers,” she said. 

“The importers were also given 20 working days (from the date of seizure) to settle their outstanding debts and then Customs will have their vehicles released. 

“Please note that vehicles to be auctioned are not prohibited vehicles.”

She added the Ministry has in place approved lawful procedures to deal with older imported vehicles.

The proceeds from the auctions of seized vehicles will be directed to the Ministry of Finance. 

Matafeo said the Ministry will then settle the outstanding duties owed to the Government and related administrative costs. 

“The Ministry of Finance and the Audit Office representatives will also be present to monitor every auction," she said. 

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