Archives For Beitbridge

carsBeitbridge border post is experiencing a significant decline in volumes of imported used cars following a 20 percent increase in excise duty which took effect on November 1. “We are processing documents for less than 40 vehicles per day compared to the previous month when we would deal with over 150 cars,” said a ZIMRA official.

Investigations by The Herald indicate that before the new duty regime, ZIMRA was making over $100 000 on car imports at Manica transit shed a day, but the figure has declined to around $30 000. A modest vehicle costs between $3 000 and $4 000 at dealerships on the South African side of the border and attracts import duty of the same amount.

Before the introduction of the new regulations, zimra officials were clearing around 170 vehicle imports a day as dealers rushed to beat the November 1 deadline.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa recently announced an increase in customs duty on single cab vehicles with a payload of more than 800kg from 20 percent to 40 percent. Buses with a 26-passenger carrying capacity and above will pay 40 percent from zero duty, while duty for double cab trucks was reviewed from 40 to 60 percent. Vehicles with an engine capacity below 1 500cc had their duty increased from 25 to 40 percent.

Customs duty for vehicles with engine capacity above 1500cc remains at 86 percent, inclusive of VAT and surtax. The new development has seen the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority processing fewer vehicles at Manica transit shed in Beitbridge. Vehicle dealers at the South African border said they were struggling to sell five cars a day. Major car dealers include Quest Royal, Wright Cars, Car Cade, Murree Motors, Noble Motors and KDG. Cars with small engines such as the Nissan March, Honda Fit, Toyota Vitz, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Raum and FunCargo were on high demand before the new duty regime. Source: The Herald
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Pacific Blue_SnapseedRelatives of President Robert Mugabe are being linked to illegal tobacco smuggling networks suspected of bringing more than $48 million in contraband through South Africa’s borders, reports NewZimbabwe.com.

Harare-based Savanna Tobacco is owned by a prominent Zimbabwean businessman, Adam Molai, who is married to Sandra Mugabe, one of Mugabe’s nieces. Molai has previously worked with Sandra as co-director of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Growing Company. Savanna has allegedly moved tons of illegal tobacco into South Africa.

The company’s main brand, Pacific cigarettes, has been found in concealed consignments by police in South Africa and abroad, according to two private investigators who track tobacco busts and work for the industry to counter the trade in illicit tobacco. The products have been linked to a huge tobacco smuggling operation whose base in South Africa was shut down in 2010 by the South African Revenue Service (SARS), which is engaged in a crackdown on the country’s illegal tobacco markets.

Images taken at the scene of two busts in South Africa and one in Zimbabwe show the extent of the smuggling operation. SARS has refused to confirm or deny whether it is investigating Savanna, citing the confidentiality requirements of the Tax Administration Act.

The frequency of the busts, the methods used and the quantities of illegal Pacific cigarettes found have led sources close to the investigations to claim that Savanna has been centrally involved for at least four years. It also increases suspicions that Zimbabwe is using smuggling to keep its economy afloat. Mugabe has openly supported Savanna. A year ago, he accused rival British American Tobacco (BAT) of spying on Savanna and hijacking its trucks. “If this is what you are doing in order to kill competition and you do it in a bad way, somebody will answer for it,” Mugabe warned.

Boxes of cigarettes that can be made for as little as R1.50 are easy to slip into the local market to avoid the R13 tax a box. Whereas popular brands of cigarettes can retail at R35 a pack, illegal cigarettes sell for between R4 and R12 a pack. With margins approaching 1000%, the illicit trade has become one of the largest elements in organised crime in South Africa.

According to research commissioned by the Tobacco Institute of South Africa, which is predominantly funded by BAT, 9.5billion illegal cigarettes with a street value of about R4-billion were smoked locally last year.

Savanna has captured almost 10% of this market, according to the institute, with about 700 million of its illegal cigarettes smoked last year. Pacific’s illegal cigarettes are sold mostly on the streets of Cape Town.

In one of the biggest busts in October, 1.6million Pacific cigarettes were found hidden on a train in Plumtree. Pacific cigarettes have also been seized at the Beitbridge border post near Musina and in Boksburg, on the East Rand, during busts in November. Trucks were found carrying Pacific cigarettes in concealed compartments.

This month, a consignment of Pacific cigarettes was found hidden behind electronic goods on a truck in the Western Cape. Similar busts have been made in Mozambique and at a border post between Zambia and Namibia, according to private investigators.

Evidence from the Plumtree train bust showed that the smuggling route had its origin as Savanna’s factory in Zimbabwe and South Africa’s black market as its destination. In the Plumtree bust on October 12, Zimbabwean police confiscated 40 tons of illicit Pacific cigarettes that had come from Bulawayo. The train was said to be carrying gum poles.

Records reveal that between September 2012 and August 2013 at least 23 shipments with 44 wagons of “gum poles” had followed the same route. A number of these consignments appear to have arrived at the South African business PFC Integration. According to an investigator who has studied the operation, PFC is “not into the gum pole business at all”.

 

tralacZimbabwe is a landlocked developing country with a population of 14 million, sharing common borders with Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia. Zimbabwe has 14 border posts, varying in size in accordance with the volume of traffic passing through them. Beitbridge, the only border post with South Africa, is the largest and busiest, owing to the fact that it is the gateway to the sea for most countries along the North-South Corridor. Zimbabwe thus provides a critical trade link between several countries in the southern African regions. The need for the country, especially its border posts, to play a trade facilitative role can therefore not be over-emphasised.

Trade facilitation has become an important issue on the multilateral, regional and Zimbabwean trade agendas, and with it, border management efficiency. Border management concerns the administration of borders. Border agencies are responsible for the processing of people and goods at points of entry and exit, as well as for the detection and regulation of people and goods attempting to cross borders illegally. Efficient border management requires the cooperation of all border management agencies and such cooperation can only be achieved if proper coordination mechanisms, legal framework and institutions are established.

This study explores how border agencies in Zimbabwe operate and cooperate in border management. The objectives of the study were to:

  • Identify agencies involved in border management in Zimbabwe;
  • Analyse the scope of their role/involvement in border management; and
  • Review domestic policy and legislation (statutes of these agencies) specifically to identify the legal provisions that facilitate cooperation among them.

Visit the Tralac Trade Law website to download the study.

Source: TRALAC

Secondhand Cars ZimbabweVehicle imports through the Beitbridge Border Post increased by 23 percent between January and May this year compared to the same period last year, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has said. The increase is attributed to the price freeze of vehicles in South Africa and also the exorbitant prices of vehicles on the local market. Prices of second hand vehicles in South Africa have remained stable for the past 12 months. It costs on average US$7 000 to buy a second hand modest car from South Africa and at least US$20 000 and above to buy a similar car on the local market.

Figures from Zimra show that a total of 14 114 vehicles have been imported through Beitbridge between January 1 and May 31, 2013 compared to 10 851 vehicles during the same period last year.

Investigations by Herald Business show that on average Zimra clears a total of 1 500 cars per month at Manica bonded warehouse, and the figure has increased to between 2 000 and 3 500.

A total of between 15 and 25 car carriers offload vehicles at Manica daily. Zimra’s legal and corporate affairs director Ms Florence Jambwa said that most of the cars were coming from Japan via Durban, South Africa.

“There has been a marked increase of motor vehicle imports at Beitbridge Border Post this year as compared to the year 2012.

“The month of January had the lowest number of imports (1 194) while the month of May had the highest number (3 706), in fact there has been an increase every month.

“You will note that imports of motor vehicles through Beitbridge are increasing as such the work load increases.

“However, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority employs several strategies to curb challenges at the border post mainly through embracing modern technological innovations such as the use of scanners and the ASYCUDA World system which is Internet-based,” said Ms Jambwa.

She said they had already addressed the challenges that were affecting the processing of vehicle imports at Beitbridge border post. Early this year there had been an outcry over the slow processing of vehicle imports at Manica where importers were spending around two days to complete the processes with Zimra. On average it should take less than one and half hours per vehicle if correct documentation was made available. She said they had no backlogs in terms of printing the customs clearance certificates for all newly imported vehicles.

Herald Business is reliably informed that plans are underway to have a cash office at the bonded warehouse and the authority has been encouraging its clients to make their payments through the bank and avoid carrying cash. Source: Zimbabwe Herald

Beit Bridge afloat!

January 29, 2013 — 2 Comments

I received the following pictures purportedly of traffic under siege at the Beit Bridge border post 6 days ago. Normally its the sweltering heat which man and truck have to contend with. The pictures suggest severe flooding creating anxious moments for transporter and pedestrian alike. According to the Zimbabwe Herald, authorities closed the border to traffic after the Limpopo River flooded leaving the new Limpopo Bridge inaccessible.

The queues at Beit Bridge

The queues at Beit Bridge

Beitbridge Border Post recorded a sharp increase in the number of travellers who passed through during the festive season with statistics indicating that 524 511 people passed through the port of entry between 14 December last year and 7 January this year compared to 392 660 during the same period the previous year. The assistant regional immigration manager in charge of Beitbridge Border Post, Mr Charles Gwede, said they handled  229 023 travellers on the exit side, an 11 percent increase compared to the last festive season when 202 348 people left the country.

On the arrivals side, 295 488 travellers entered the country, a 35 percent surge compared to the last festive season when immigration officials handled 190 312 travellers. The highest number of travellers on the entry side was recorded on 23 December when 42 435 people entered the country through the country’s busiest port of entry. On the departure side, the highest number was recorded on 3 January when 22 625 people left the country.

“This festive season between 14 December and 7 January, we handled 524 511 travellers, marking a 25 percent increase in the number of people who passed through Beitbridge during the festive season compared to the previous year when we handled 392 660 travellers,” said Gwede. Most of the travellers that they handled were Zimbabweans working in South Africa commonly known as injiva, who had visited home for the Christmas holidays. He attributed the increase in the number of travellers to the South African documentation exercise, which saw many Zimbabweans working in that country acquiring permits.

Many of Zimbabweans staying and working in South Africa are now documented after they acquired authentic permits during the regularisation exercise in that country hence they could now travel freely. The documents also enabled them to drive foreign registered vehicles, which is another factor that resulted in an increase in the volume of vehicular traffic during this festive period compared to the previous years. The South African government embarked on the process of documenting Zimbabweans illegally staying in that country between 5 May 2009 and 31 July 2010 during which over 275 000 applications from Zimbabweans were processed while several others were turned down and some are still pending. Source: The Chronical, Zimbabwe

border-lines

Zimbabwean Police are set to meet their South African counterparts following an incident in which the South African officers used tear gas to control travellers at their side of the border last Friday morning. The majority of the travellers were Zimbabweans, with others coming from countries north of the Zambezi.

The South African Police Services (SAPS) used tear smoke to control travellers at around 9am as the number of human traffic started increasing at Beitbridge Border Post.

No one was injured in the incident which lasted for about 15 minutes when people started showing their discontent with the slow way they were being cleared by immigration officials from that country.

Some travellers started jumping queues after they had spent between three and four hours waiting to gain passage into South Africa. Police officer commanding Beitbridge district Chief Superintendent Lawrence Chinhengo said yesterday that the incident was a great cause for concern.

“This was a very unfortunate incident. We are not happy with the method our counterparts used to control queues and have since communicated to them that we need to have an urgent bilateral meeting to iron out the issue. There are better ways to manage people rather than the tear smoke. It is of paramount importance that we meet and find better ways to control crowds during this festive season,” he said. Source: Bulawayo24.com

For more insight also read “Zim travellers stranded at border post” on zoutnet.co.za.

beitbridge

Beitbridge – crossing the Limpopo river

The Department of Immigration in Beitbridge has put in place mechanisms aimed at dealing with congestion at the country’s busiest border post in anticipation of an increase in the volume of traffic during the festive period. Assistant regional immigration manager in charge of Beitbridge Border Post, Mr Charles Gwede, said they have since held a series of meetings with key stakeholders and their South African counterparts to address congestion at the border.

“We have started preparing for the festive period in anticipation of a huge influx of travellers and all necessary strategies are now in place to help speed up the clearance of people during the festive period,” he said. “We are suspending leave and off-days for staff between 15 December and 16 January next year.

“As part of our decongestion drive we will scramble our shifts to maximise on manpower during the normal and extra peak days. In fact, starting from 15 December we expect a huge influx of travellers hence between 14 and 17 December, 21 and 24 December and 4 to 7 January, we will dissolve our shifts to ensure that we have more officers per shift who would effectively manage the queues and speed up the clearance process,” he said.

Mr Gwede said they were expecting 20 officers from other stations to beef up the local staff and ensure that all check points and counters were adequately manned. Beitbridge Border Post has a staff complement of 47 officers and support staff.

“As border stakeholders, we held several inter-border meetings with our South African counterparts to discuss and explore ways and strategies aimed at dealing with congestion during extra peak periods.

As part of their decongestion strategy, Mr Gwede said they would categorise travellers and create more counters to reduce queues. According to statistics, immigration officials at the border handled 73 825 travellers between Monday and Wednesday on both arrival and departure sides.

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) spokesperson, Mr Canisio Mudzimu, said they would deploy relief officers to Beitbridge Border Post to beef up the local staff and help speed up the customs clearance process. “We are geared up in terms of facilitating the smooth movement of both human and vehicular traffic passing through Beitbridge Border Post during the festive season. We will deploy extra officers from less busy stations to Beitbridge Border Post during the festive period and to assist in border operations,” he said.

Beitbridge Border Post requires at least 247 customs officers to man it. The border post, which is the country’s busiest inland port of entry, has an establishment 141 officers. Mr Mudzimu said they would create separate traffic lanes to cater for tourists, returning residents, private motorists, commercial, buses and pedestrians to speed up the flow of traffic and reduce congestion.

Touts and bogus clearing agents continue to find their way into the customs yard where they would swindle unsuspecting travellers of their money under the guise of offering assistance. Beitbridge is the busiest inland port of entry in sub-Saharan Africa, which handles a huge volume of both human and vehicular traffic passing though daily. Commercial trucks destined for East and Central African countries such as Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia also pass through the border post.

On a normal day, the border handles between 6 000 and 8 000 travellers daily with the figures rising to 20 000 during the peak period. Source: Bulawayo24.com

Beit Bridge Borderpost, Zimbabwe

Police in Beitbridge have recovered yet another consignment of cigarettes worth US$20 000 in Tshapfuche as they intensify their anti smuggling operation. The stash destined for export was recovered last Friday morning following the discovery of other contraband shipment worth almost US$500 000 in the same area the previous day.

Countries of the South African Customs Union (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland) charge high duties on cigarettes, meaning that even those bought retail in Zimbabwe can be sold for good profit in South Africa.

The police officer commanding Beitbridge district Chief Superintendent Lawrence Chinhengo said the second stash was recovered at the homestead of a security guard they had earlier on arrested.

The security guard was part of the three suspects who were arrested while looking after the “merchandise” at Edzisani Muleya’s homestead. Chief Supt Chinhengo said the suspect had hid 33 boxes at his sister’s homestead while he kept another 72 boxes at his house.

Three hundred and eleven boxes of Remmington Gold, 442 Cevils, 221 Dullas and 107 Newbury cigarettes worth US$500 000 were last week recovered from Muleya’s homestead. Police say the house had become an illegal transit warehouse.

Muleya has since gone into hiding and police have launched a manhunt. Chief Supt Chinhengo said the Ferret squad, made up of the ZRP, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and other security agents raided the homestead on Thursday afternoon during an operation code-named Sukani Emanzini (Get out of the Limpopo River). Source: The Herald (Zimbabwe)

The Chronicle (Zimbabwe) reports that the Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion and South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry are creating economic zones in their respective countries to boost investment. Economic zones are areas where local and foreign investors or companies who invest there are given preferential benefits like low tax and low rentals.

Speaking during the 4th Investment and Trade Initiative between visiting South African business delegates and Bulawayo business people, the Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Dr Samuel Undenge said the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement signed in 2010 by the Zimbabwean and South African Governments would help in the creation of the economic zones.

South Africa’s Deputy Director General responsible for Enterprise and Development Mr Sipho Zikode said they were busy crafting a special document to guide the 12 identified economic zones in South Africa. “Messina is one of the chosen economic zones in South Africa and we also want to create linkages with Beitbridge as they are close to each other,” said Mr Zikode. Dr Undenge said there was need for countries to work together to boost economies on the continent. The business seminar was held to achieve mutual economic growth and development through outward investment facilitation, infrastructure development and trade liberalisation between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Police and Zimra officials remove cigarettes from an illegal “warehouse” in Tshapfuche, Beitbridge

Zimbabwean Customs and Police have smashed a cigarette smuggling syndicate and recovered a bootleg of export quality cigarettes worth almost US$500 000 in Tshapfuche. The 1 081 boxes of assorted local cigarettes brands were kept at Edzisani Muleya’s homestead. Police said the house had become an illegal transit warehouse.

Muleya disappeared and police have since launched a manhunt. The Ferret squad, made up of the ZRP, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and other security agents raided the homestead on Thursday afternoon during an operation code-named Sukani Emanzini (Get out of the Limpopo River). Two men and a woman were arrested after police found them taking a nap on top of the cigarette boxes. The suspects kept their “merchandise” in five rooms. By end of day on Thursday, armed police had cordoned off the homestead. Several homesteads in the area were deserted when police arrived.

Police believe the homestead was a transit point for criminals who would then smuggle the cigarettes into South Africa through the Limpopo River. They said South Africa is a choice destination for regional cigarette smugglers who repackage them for export to Asia and other European markets. Another 107 boxes of Newbury cigarettes were recovered in Lutumba on the same day. Police intercepted a suspect attempting move the contraband to “safety”.

Police officer commanding Beitbridge district Chief Superintendent Lawrence Chinhengo yesterday said the raids were made after a tip-off. He said they recovered 311 boxes of Remmington Gold, 442 Cevils, 221 Dullas and 107 Newbury cigarettes. “We received a tip-off to the effect that Edzisani Muleya’s homestead in Tshapfuche area had been turned into an illegal warehouse for cigarettes”.

“We then raided the area on Thursday afternoon, where we found two men who had been hired as security guards sleeping on top of the boxes.” Chief Supt Chinhengo said police recovered documents with the movement, list of suppliers and other people who are part of the syndicate. He said investigations were under way. Last week, a 43-year-old Malawian trucker was fined US$1 000 for attempting to smuggle 262 boxes of export quality cigarettes worth US$35 000 through Beitbridge Border Post. Source: The Herald (Zimbabwe)

On a subject close to my heart. The National Detector Dog Unit of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) is getting a boost with more than 70 new dogs and handlers being trained to make up a number of new dog units around the country. Apart from filling a couple of current vacancies, the new recruits will form part of Detector Dog Units in Port Elizabeth, Zeerust, Mahamba, Vioolsdrift, Nakop, Maseru Bridge and an expanded Mpumalanga unit. All the additional units are expected to become operational in the first quarter of 2013.

“By next year, most of the major land, sea and air ports should have their own detector dog units (DDU),” said the senior manager of the DDU, Hugo Taljaard. “The ultimate aim is to have dog units at every port, with a total of 500 new handlers and dogs needed. However, this is a long-term (four-year) project, aimed at enhancing our non-intrusive capabilities at ports of entry to prevent cross-border smuggling.”

The SARS Detector Dog Unit has also been asked recently to assist with training in Namibia and Angola, following the assistance we gave the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) to establish a Detector Dog capability. The DDU continues to see major successes countrywide, with a recent copper bust in the news last weekend.

Detector dog Umaga, an 18-month old German Shepherd, sniffed out 84kg of copper at the Beit Bridge border post during his first operation. Umaga recently completed his training as a copper sniffer dog. The copper was concealed in luggage in a trailer entering South Africa. Umaga is the second sniffer dog to be trained to sniff out copper. Milo, a five-year-old Labrador, has also already nosed out his first contraband copper. There has been an increase in the smuggling of copper wire across the border into South Africa, since copper has a much higher value here than in the other member states of the Southern African Development Community. The increase has meant that Customs has had to beef up its ability to detect contraband copper. The wire is usually concealed in compartments under trucks.

The Detector Dog Unit was the first in the world to train “dual application dogs”, Hugo explained. So instead of being trained or “imprinted” to detect only one scent, they are able to detect a combination of scents, e.g. narcotics and currency, tobacco and endangered species. Both Milo and Umaga are dual dogs and they can detect narcotics/tobacco and copper wire. The explosives detector dogs are the only dogs not dual trained due to the safety risk.

The dogs are an integral part of our Customs workforce and are seen as officers in their own right. They are therefore looked after with the utmost care and attention and are even provided with special reflector jackets, cooler jackets for the heat and dog shoes made to protect their feet from hot surfaces. Source: SARS Communications Division

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) is working in partnership with organised businesses associations in crafting a Memorandum of Understanding, creating the Zimbabwe Customs to Business Forum, an official has said. ZIMRA’s commissioner for customs and excise Mr Happias Kuzvinzwa said last week that the forum was a platform for his organisation and business to collaborate on issues of compliance, policy, capacity building, integrity and technical engagements. He was addressing delegates at the Shipping and Forwarding Agents’ Association of Zimbabwe 8th annual conference held in Beitbridge last week. Mr Kuzvinzwa said the interim steering committee was finalising the draft MoU and terms of reference.

“The forum is a prelude to the implementation of the authorised economic operator scheme. Membership of this forum is open to the businesses affiliated to recognised associations and shall be governed through a steering committee which is a higher committee, and standing committees which are lower committees chaired and constituted by both ZIMRA and business.

“The standing committees are organised in clusters for easy management of programmes. We expect all the concerned parties to sign the MoU soon upon its finalisation” he said.

Mr Kuzvinzwa added that in line with the SAFE framework of standards, ZIMRA would soon be plotting the authorised economic operators. He said the scheme sought to reward all compliant operators in the supply chain who meet the set criteria. He added that groundwork had been done and teams will be conducting stakeholder consultations and awareness workshops next month. “I would also want to urge the freight industry to embrace as a culture and operation ethos integrity, voluntary compliance, relevant competencies, and information technology.

“Missing these industry risks is being packed into the dustbin of history as you become irrelevant and classified as non-tariff barriers.” he said. Mr Kuzvinzwa added that ZIMRA was also in the process of putting in place a border agency single window through ASYCUDAworld. He said all border agencies would be connected to the workflow process through ASYCUDAworld to ensure that respective mandates are coordinated and streamlined.

“Discussions are at an advanced stage with other border agencies on the implementation of the single window and Beitbridge has been selected to pilot the programme with ZIMRA providing computer workstations at their respective offices,” he said.

Source: The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Saturday 11 February 2012 sees the implementation of new modernised customs procedures and formalities at South Africa’s first SACU land frontier office – Kopfontein – border between South Africa and Botswana.  While enhancements are slanted more in terms of internal SARS customs procedure, SACU traders will no doubt experience some anxiety with the transition. For the first time SARS Customs Modernisation impacts directly on traders and neighbouring Botswana Customs operational procedures in a significant way, which will fashion operations at all remaining inland border posts of the Customs Union. Over the last few months SARS has worked with trade, the Botswana customs authority as well as the business chamber in Botswana concerning the intended changes and their impact on stakeholders. The implementation ushers in cross-cutting changes for customs staff operationally, new technology as well as legal and policy changes. In the case of the latter, a further element of the draft Customs Control Bill is introduced whereby foreign business operators (importers, exporters and road carriers) must be registered with SARS to perform customs transactions in South Africa. This is perhaps the single issue which has had ramifications for parties who regularly cross the border between Botswana and South Africa. Hopefully recent iterations of notices and explanations have helped clarify the SARS requirements. (See the SARS Customs Modernisation webpage).

Other modifications and changes include –

Elimination of paper clearance documents – this is a significant departure from traditional SACU processing where all member countries have relied on the Single Administrative Document (SAD) to facilitate intra-SACU clearance. With the bulk of clearances expected to be electronic, SARS will now only print a customs notification (CN1) which will specify the status and outcome for each clearance. This the trader will use in support of customs clearance in Botswana. SARS will therefore no longer stamp and authorise hardcopy SAD500 clearance documents. Of course, there is nothing which stops a trader printing the SAD500 for cross border purposes, only SARS will no longer attest these. As concerns SARS VAT requirements, arrangements will be made for traders to submit the CN1 for purposes of VAT returns. Details on this to follow.

Electronic supporting documents – already tried and tested at sea and airports across South Africa, traders no longer need to carry on their person hard copy clearance supporting documentation , i.e. invoices, worksheets and packing lists. These are only required should SARS indicate via electronic message that a consignment requires further scrutiny. Customs brokers and traders using EDI will in most cases have the SARS e@syScan facility available on their computer systems which makes it relatively simple and easy to scan, package and submit to SARS. In the event a trader cannot perform this electronically, he may approach any of the 4 Customs Hubs (Alberton, Cape Town, Durban, and Doringkloof) across the country, to have these scanned and uploaded by SARS. Alternatively, these can of course be delivered to the border post for manual processing and finalisation of a customs intervention. Supporting documents are linked to a unique case number which SARS notifies to the trader in the event of a risk.

Clearance processing – SARS has centralised its backend processing of clearances where goods declarations are now processed off-site at one of the 4 Hubs. No longer are clearances processed at customs branch office. All goods declarations – whether electronically submitted or manually captured – are routed to a central pool for validation, verification and assessment if flagged by the risk engine. In the case of land borders all clearances once successfully processed will receive a ‘Proceed-to-border’ message implying that the road carrier may commence delivery to the border. A key feature of the new clearance process is the availability of Customs Status Codes. These codes are initiated by the customs system at specified points in the process to alert the declarant of the status of his/her transaction. These status’s also indicate the follow-up required of the declarant to bring the transaction to a state of finality.

Automated Cargo Management (ACM) – All road carriers are now required to submit their road manifests electronically, via EDI, to the Customs ACM system. For now, SARS will not electronically match the manifest against the declaration, but will monitor compliance and data quality of electronic manifest  for a period of time before initiating real-time matching and acquittal. This will invoke a significant responsibility on both trader and road remover to ensure that they both provide credible data to customs otherwise delays will occur. Upon arrival of the cargo at the border, the driver presents a printout of his electronic manifest. The manifest number is ‘checked in’ by a customs official which in seconds brings up all associated goods declarations linked to the manifest number on the system. The customs officer is able to determine the overall risk status of the vehicle. Where no risks are present a status notification (CN1) is printed for each goods declaration, and a gate pass (CN2) is handed to the driver permitting him to exit the customs controlled area. The future real-time matching will comprise a combined risk assessment of both manifest and declaration information that will result in a single risk outcome. Such risk assessment will include both fiscal and security compliance features thereby bringing SARS in line with international supply chain security standards. Going forward, risk assessment will accommodate ‘all-of-government’ requirements ensuring that all regulatory measures and associated risks are administered in a single instance obviating the need for successive, time-consuming inspections and costly delays.

Automated Customs Inspection – Following its recent introduction at the Beit Bridge border post, the new hand-held inspection tool, conveniently developed on an iPod, allows the customs border control official to electronically access, capture and upload an inspection outcome to the central customs system. This significantly improves the efficiency for this time-intensive activity where the officer can initiate a status up date electronically at the inspection site, where previously the declarant would have to wait for the outcome of the manual inspection report and release note. What’s more, the customs officer has access to the underlying clearance data and can even activate the camera function and capture visuals of suspect cargo which can be appended to an inspection case for verification by higher authority or historical reference value.

There are additional features and functionality to be introduced at Kopfontein and all remaining border posts over the next few months. These relate to improved revenue accounting, new trader registration and licensing system offering online application and approval, and a new traveller and temporary import/export processing. More about this in a future post.  For traders, the benefits of the new solution at SACU land borders aim to remove random and unwarranted intervention by customs. All activities are risk driven via a secure ‘get next’ selection function ensuring that internal integrity is maintained and only ‘risk-related’ consignments/transactions are dealt with. Please visit the SARS Modernisation webpage for all the latest updates and notices on modernisation releases.

Heartless!

January 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

Fellow blogger ZIMDEV paints a bleak picture for casual cross border traders – Cross border trade has been the lifeline for many unemployed Zimbabweans who make a living buying and selling goods from various neighbouring countries. Late last year, the Zimbabwean government together with the Zimbabwe Revenue authority have introduces a ban on the use of the $300 rebate on most goods. The new tariffs are quite steep and leave no room for profit for the traders. Cross border traders, fed the nation when Zimbabwean shops were empty. They travel across borders, bringing in goods that are not available in Zimbabwe and play a vital role in the economy. One visit to Beitbridge will prove just how vital the cross border trade is to Zimbabwe. It is disheartening to see the government’s reaction to cross border trade.

Instead of enabling and facilitating trade, the government is stifling and discouraging trade and enterprise. Importers of blankets, footwear, refrigerators, stoves and other electrical gadgets now pay 40% of the purchasing price plus a flat rate of US$5 per unit as duty. Government is also now charging between 10% and 25% duty on basic commodities such as maize meal, cooking oil, potato chips, baked beans and mixed fruit jam. The consignment of goods is also charged according to the weight of the goods, each kilo being charged at $3. Cross border trade has been dealt a heavy blow.

While continental and regional efforts wax lyrical about future ‘free trade’ in the Africa, domestic efforts and policy appear to be in contradiction, or perhaps the political utterances at regional trade and AU conferences are mere hot air!  Read the full article here! Surely this should be a case for closer diplomatic collaboration between Zimbabwe and its neighbours, or are the ‘cross border traders’ the enemy?