The new automated customs management system implemented by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) on August 18, was proving successful with close to 39 000 import declarations and more than 55 000 export declarations processed since its introduction, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Friday.
These export and import declarations represented more than 500 000 consignments that were declared and processed with the new system. Goods with a total trade value of R40-billion moved through South Africa’s borders since the implementation of the new system with more than R2.5-billion having been collected in duties.
The new customs management system centralised the clearing of all import and export declarations using a single processing engine. The new automated system entailed converting 26 older legacy- and paper-based systems into a fully automated system to be used for all commercial trade across South Africa borders, and was aimed at reducing delays at border posts.
“By managing customs declarations and supporting documents in electronic format, the processing of cargo movements by land, sea and air will now be much quicker and more accurate,” Gordhan said.
This was required to reach the target set by the National Development Plan of increasing intra-regional trade in Southern Africa from 7% to 25% by 2030, and increasing South Africa’s trade with regional neighbours from 15% of the country’s total trade to 30%, he added.
The new SARS custom management system reduced end-to-end paper use by up to 95%, cut the time required for physical inspections to about two hours, improved security and risk detection and reduced administrative requirements.
The improved information flow combined with sophisticated risk engines allowed for more accurate targeting of illegitimate goods from dishonest traders while simultaneously facilitating the movement of legitimate products from honest traders, the Finance Minister said.
“The customs risk engines have been enhanced in collaboration with the National Economic Development and Labour Council to look for goods that have been declared at low value. This has been particularly successful as we have seen the declared value of specified commodities increasing by about 25%,” Gordhan pointed out.
SARS conducted an extensive process of engagement with industry stakeholders before implementing the new system and trade stakeholders and their service providers had been involved in the development and testing of the new system over the past year.
“When SARS embarked on the modernisation journey, it was clear that there would be baby steps and some giant leaps. The planning, inclusion and the intensive testing with key supply chain industry members can only be commended. The results speak for themselves; minimum interruption to the supply chain and a couple of blinks later, success,” Bidvest Panalpinia Logistics customs portfolio manager Currie Pisapia commented.
Since implementation the new customs management system had entered a stabilisation process, which was expected to last three to six months, to cater for the cyclical nature of import and export declarations. Customs will then look to use the new management system as a platform for further enhance