The year 2011 has proven both challenging and beneficial for many in the South African Customs community. New business opportunities offered via the Customs Modernisation Programme materialised and provided the service providers ample scope to improve their service offerings to clients in the freight forwarding and clearance space. Leveraging off tried and tested technology tools already employed by SARS in the Tax business, the implementation of E@syScan provided significant efficiencies in the customs clearance processing response times, although the jury is still out on whether such efficiencies have in fact translated into cost-savings for the customs trade. In this regard it is up to trade itself to assess if the traditional cost of printing reams of paper and employing a runner to deliver manual documents to Customs is significantly reduced by the new electronic supporting document process. Could be an interesting exercise.
On the SARS front, the implementation of a new automated case management, and inspection workflow is nothing short of a revelation in so far as traceability and improved efficiency. Similarly, such efficiency needs to translate into cost savings. Certainly there are less manual interventions in the process, the emphasis now moves to working more smartly as regards the booking and conducting of physical inspections. True this has been a huge learning curve for all. Refinements and fine-tuning of the process moving forward will undoubtedly release the expected results to the point where most will wonder how they ever managed in ‘manual mode’ in the past.
To close off the year, SARS has just published its second edition of its electronic Customs bulletin – Customs Connect. Please take the time to read and digest.