Awarding the SKA

So what does the awarding of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and Customs have in common? Sweet blow all as far as I was concerned until a colleague of mine, Roux Raath, pointed out one of the criteria on which the award was made. Reading the actual report one realises this has more to do with the fact that six African countries will be involved and the cross border movements are foreseen to be complex in contrast to movements between Australia and NZ. Therefore, this has less to do with the South African Customs administration than the Southern African geographical environment. The report also refers to duty and tax structures and these issues should perhaps find a home with the DTI as customs does not dictate these. Nonetheless, the fact remains that certain issues have been raised and these should be considered when strategies are devised to support the SKA project.

The SKA Site Advisory Committee (SSAC) reviewed the various customs systems and duty rates, the excise tax regimes and tax rates, and related issues such as import and export processes that will impact the SKA over its lifetime. A wide range of issues was considered since the SKA involves a large multinational investment of funds, materials, and services, including the provision of scientific and technical equipment, and personnel in various remote locations.

The SSAC reviewed the issues presented by the two candidates, including details related to the six diverse South African member countries; cross-border coordination and logistical issues presented by the South African proposal; and the diverse customs, excise, and regulatory structures in the two candidate sites. The SSAC also considered the long-standing Australia–New Zealand Closer Economic Relationship Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA) free-trade and economic cooperation agreement (allowing for the free flow of goods, services, and people between the two countries) and the absence of overall free-trade agreements among the six members of the South African consortium. The SSAC also reviewed the customs, free-trade, economic, and business environments in Australia and New Zealand and considered the written confirmation from the Australian government that there will be no Goods and Services Tax (GST) payable by the SKA in Australia. On the factor of Customs & Excise, the SSAC awarded the following points for each of the contending consortia – 13.3 for ANZ and 6.7 for South Africa.

To read the full report, download here!

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