SA Government to Prioritise and Pass Customs Bills

Parliment, Cape Town (Eye Witness News)

Parliament, Cape Town (Eye Witness News)

Government has decided to prioritise the passage of eight bills through Parliament. The bills deal with land restitution, labour relations, and customs and excise.

There are currently 42 bills before the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. With the fourth Parliament set to be dissolved ahead of looming general elections, Members of Parliament (MPs) are unlikely to deal with all 42 bills.

A statement just released by the ANC’s office in Parliament to the media states –

“The African National Congress in Parliament has taken note of the huge parliamentary workload which the institution has to process in the next few months before the expiry of the current five-year term of parliament. In terms of the Constitution, the current term of Parliament is set to end ahead of the 2014 national elections. The workload confronting the institution includes committee oversights, constituency programmes, adoption of committee reports, debates on the state of the nation address and the budget, and finalisation and adoption of Bills.”

“Currently, there are 24 Bills before the National Assembly (NA) and 18 currently before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) – which is a total of 42 Bills the institution must pass before the elections. Our view is that all these Bills are important and therefore the institution should spare neither strength nor effort in ensuring they are processed qualitatively and thoroughly to ensure that they are converted into laws within the stipulated period. We are however alive to the possibility that not all these Bills may be passed in the next few remaining months of parliament.”

“We have therefore sought to prioritise the following Bills, which we believe Parliament should give special attention to ensure they are passed into laws. In terms of the rules of Parliament, Bills that are not passed within the current term of Parliament may be resuscitated in the next parliamentary term. This will be done for those Bills that might not be passed during this term.”

“In determining priority Bills, we have looked at criteria such as complexity, contentiousness, technicality, effect on provinces, and requirement for exhaustive consultation. [Three of the eight bills relate to Customs and Excise]

  1. Customs Control Bill of 2013 – The Customs Control Bill is intended to replace certain provisions of the Customs and Excise Act of 1964 relating to customs control of all means of transport, goods and persons entering or leaving South Africa. The Bills aims to ensure that taxes imposed by various other laws on imported or exported goods are collected and that various other laws regulating imports and exports of goods are complied with. To ensure effective implementation of customs control, the Bill provides for elaborate systems for customs processing of goods at places of entry and exit such as seaports, airports and land border posts;
  2. Customs Duty Bill of 2013 – The Customs Duty Bill is intended to replace certain provisions of the Customs and Excise Act of 1964 which relates to the imposition and collection of imports and export duties. The Bill primarily aims to provide for the levying, payment and recovery of import and export duties on goods imported or exported from South Africa. The Bill will be dealt with in terms of Section 77 of the Constitution; and
  3. Customs and Excise Amendment Bill of 2013 – The Customs and Excise Amendment Bill seeks to amend the provisions of the Customs and Excise Act of 1964 and to remove from the Act all the provisions that have now been incorporated into both the Customs Control Bill and the Customs Duty Bill. Essentially, because the Customs and Excise Amendment Act of 1964 strongly reflected rigidity reminiscent of the apartheid era controls, which are unsuitable to the current modern control systems, it has been split into both the Customs Control Bill and the Customs Duty Bill. The Customs and Excise Amendment Act of 1964 will for now be retained in an amended form for the continued administration of excise duties and relevant levies until it is completely replaced with a new law in future (i.e. Excise Duty Bill).”

Source: Excerpt of a press statement of the Office of the Chief Whip of the ANC, Parliament.


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