South Africa streamlines customs control

30 July 2010

The South African Revenue Service is modernising the country’s customs processes to improve its service for tax-compliant traders while making it easier to identify illegal and illicit trade.

“The programme will improve the service for tax-compliant traders and increase the risks for those who are non-compliant,” SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Oupa Magashula told a conference in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Intikhab Shaik, executive of the modernisaton programme, said: “We will be automating technology, putting all data into computers. This will mean more ease and speed of the tax and trade process.”

He said Sars aimed to move from a paper-controlling organisation to a risk-management organisation.

“We want to make sure ‘the stick’ is only used on non-compliant traders. We don’t want to be the gatekeepers any more. We aim for customs to only intervene silently and efficiently, and only when necessary.”

Releasing human resources

Shaik said the electronification of South Africa’s customs process, electronic document delivery and management, would allow Sars to identify illegal and illicit trade more easily.

“Electronification releases human resources from mundane, low-yielding administrative activities and allows more manpower to catch illegal traders.

“If data is in a computer it is more manageable and that information is safer. We will be able to tell exactly where cargo is and at what stage of the customs process it is at.”

Sars also announced they would be eradicating some of their more “complicated” forms.

Implementation of electronic systems had already begun, but the first major changes could be expected in October this year.