Ricochet News

New customs legislation to benefit SA

OCTOBER 14, 2015
New customs legislation to benefit SA

Brand new customs legislation, which the South African Revenue Service (SARS) is expected to implement soon, will bring about a number of trade benefits for the country, says the Commissioner of the Tom Moyane.

“These include greater transparency and predictability of doing business, promoting exports, enhancing business competitiveness and stimulating domestic activity, promoting an environment for SMMEs to flourish, and ultimately making South Africa more globally competitive,” Moyane explained.

He said the changes would have a massive impact on stakeholders as well as the way SARS works and it was therefore important to understand why they were doing it and how it will benefit everyone in the long-term.

In 2003 work on relooking the customs legislation began when it was realised that the Customs and Excise Act of 1964 had not kept pace with the changing focus of customs work.

The reworking of the customs legislation took the form of the Customs Control Act, the Customs Duty Act and the Customs and Excise Amendment Act, which were published in the Government Gazette last July.

“The existing Customs and Excise Act will be renamed to the Excise Duty Act when these Acts become effective. The two Customs Acts will be implemented on a date yet to be determined by our President,” Commissioner Moyane told delegates attending the SA Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) annual conference in Durban.

Moyane said the implementation of the legislation will only occur when the relevant rules, systems and processes are in place.

“The new systems, policies and procedures are thus being developed in phases – the first three are registration and licensing, goods reporting and declaration processing. Roll out of the registration and licensing phase will probably begin in the 2016/17 financial year,” he explained.

Each of these three initial phases will also have their own sub-phases, he added.

The Commissioner highlighted the fact that these changes will facilitate trade and investment and not hamper it. “This has been one of the biggest concerns from our clients,” he said.

The changes will have benefits to trade and the country.

SARS also assured industry that it will not implement any aspect of the new legislation without proper consultation.

“We are also aware that one of the biggest concerns of [our] clients is delays at the border post.” He said this had been addressed through the SARS modernisation programme over the past few years.

There are also a number of other initiatives that customs is currently working on to speed up passage through borders, including the Single Window concept. The concept of a Single Window is borne out of the fact that traditional import/export and related regulatory requirements pose a barrier to market entry for international goods.

Illicit economy

Meanwhile, Moyane said the illicit economy continues to be a serious threat to legitimate forms of business and financial activity. It also undermined economic growth and the tax revenue base.

“Illicit economic activities contribute towards many of our social ills e.g. bribery of officials and financial institutions.”