The South African Revenue Service (SARS) today outlined a series of initiatives to improve the capability of its Customs and border control operations.
These measures are a response to the Framework of Standards for customs administrations which the World Customs Organization (WCO) adopted as policy for member states in June last year. South Africa is one of 169 member states of the WCO - the controlling body of international trade.
The Framework of Standards sets out rules for increasing cooperation between customs administrations and the private sector.
About International Customs Day
The international customs community celebrates International Customs Day on the 26th of January every year. This date marks the anniversary of the First Session of the Customs Cooperation Council which took place on 26 January 1952. The Customs Cooperation Council is now known as the World Customs Organization (WCO) and represents the interests of 169 Customs administrations. South Africa, through SARS Commissioner Pravin Gordhan, chairs the WCO for the fifth term.
The 169 WCO member states jointly administer 99% of global trade. The WCO?s main objective is to facilitate international trade whilst enhancing the enforcement capacity of its members by standardising and harmonizing customs procedures. The WCO also facilitates international trade and provides technical assistance to improve the enforcement capacity of member states.
South Africa has a particular legacy of historical neglect in customs operations. Since the inception of SARS in 1997, the organisation?s transformation process sought to raise the profile and enhance the capacity of customs operations. In order to further improve the capacity of customs and to respond to the WCO Framework of Standards, SARS has undertaken the following priorities for 2006:
These interventions are both important and necessary for SARS to fulfill its mandate to safeguard South Africa?s border and facilitate trade. A joint compliance and public awareness campaign by SARS and the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa since the end of last year demonstrated the harmful effect negative economic activity has on South African business and consumers.
Some associated risks include the destructive impact on job creation, losses in revenue to the fiscus and ultimately consumers who are exposed to illicit or sub-standard products in the confectionary, tobacco and alcohol industries. These activities directly challenge the ability of SARS Customs to detect, deter, investigate and ultimately prosecute individuals and parties responsible for illicit activity.
For further media enquiries please contact Adrian Lackay at 012 422 4206 or 083 388 2580.
ISSUED BY THE COMMISSIONER FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN REVENUE SERVICE