The BMA Bill – a little more for stakeholders to ponder over

The BMA Bill No.39058In recent months ‘Joe Public’ has witnessed developments relating to new visa requirements regarding international travel to and from South Africa. Tourism and the hospitality industry have been impacted in no small way while government has now established a committee to investigate the claims to the effect that the country’s tourism industry has been severely impacted.

It is now commercial trade’s time to consider the next set of legal requirements emanating from the Department of Home Affairs which, in the main, affect legislation under other departments and organ’s of state – in particular SARS Customs. Interested parties can find/download the document by clicking the link http://www.gpwonline.co.za/ and searching for eGazette No.39058.

In essence function of the Border Management Agency (BMA) Bill is – To provide for the establishment, organisation, regulation and control of the Border Management Agency; to provide for the transfer, assignment, and designation of law enforcement border related functions to the Border Management Agency; and to provide for matters connected thereto.

Be sure to digest the content of the Schedules to the Bill which contain the extent of the ‘meat’ and authority which the proposed Border Management Agency will exert if, or once approved. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) invites comments to the draft Bill which must reach DHA no later than 14 September 2015.

State-of-Art Port Control Centre opens in Cape Town

Inter-Departmental CooperationSouth Africa’s first maritime port of entry control centre represents a milestone in the country’s journey to secure, modernise and control its borders, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said at the opening of the centre at Cowrie Port in Cape Town harbour last week on Friday.

The centre puts all the government departments and agencies involved in immigration and border control under one roof. These include the departments of home affairs, health, agriculture and fisheries, the SA Police Service (border police and crime intelligence), and the SA Revenue Service (Customs). The state-of-the-art centre would not only improve security and immigration issues, but would also serve to enhance trade and South Africa’s status as a logistical gateway to Africa, Gordhan said.

Trade

The rationale behind the centre was in line with the National Development Plan, the minister said. Among other things, the NDP aims to stimulate growth by lowering the cost of doing business in South Africa, improving the country’s competitiveness and exports, and linking local products with other emerging markets. Gordhan said the fast-growing markets of Africa represented important new markets, and the NDP was committed to increasing South Africa’s trade with its regional neighbours from 15% to 30%.

‘Complex borders’

Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor, also speaking at Friday’s opening, said the centre had been designed “to accommodate in one spot not only customs, excise and immigration, but also health, safety and intelligence.

“Ports are complex borders to manage. Cowrie Place will provide the space and facilities to manage passengers and cargoes more efficiently than before.” Pandor said the government hoped to establish a border management agency by the end of 2016, taking advantage of the lessons learnt from Cowrie Place. A flagship feature of Cowrie Place is the co-ordination monitoring centre, where the data and information will be fed, assimilated and made available to all government department and agencies involved in the maritime border management.

“For the bona fide tourist or member of the trade community, this will mean better service,” Gordhan said. “For those who intend to challenge the laws of our country, be warned, as we intend to raise the bar of compliance by an order of magnitude.”

Important port

Cape Town’s port is oldest in South Africa, but despite changes to its maritime culture brought by air travel and containerisation, it is still an important point of entry. The port processes more than 870 000 containers as well as nearly 730 000 tons of dry bulk per annum, Pandor said.

A total of 6 173 commercial vessels and 55 passenger vessels entered and/or left the port in 2013, while more than 62 000 people entered and/or departed from Cape Town harbour. Pandor said E-berth at the harbour would be developed into a fully fledged passenger liner terminal to complement Cowrie Place.

SA-Mozambique One Stop Border, one step closer

ressano-garcia_snapseedParliment’s standing committee on finance (SCoF) on Wednesday finally adopted a bilateral agreement between South Africa and Mozambique that brings the creation of a one-stop border post between the two countries a step closer.

The move has been six years in the making. The facility is expected to expedite the movement of goods and people, reduce congestion and delays, and lower the cost of cross-border trade.

Members of Parliment heard on Wednesday that the World Bank estimated that a one-day reduction in inland travel time in sub-Saharan Africa could result in a 7% increase in exports. Further, reducing export costs 10% through greater efficiency could increase exports 4.7%.

Parliament is in the process of ratifying the bilateral legal framework for the one-stop border post between South Africa and Mozambique at Lebombo-Ressano Garcia. It is the first bilateral framework of its kind for South Africa and is likely to be replicated in other parts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The facility is expected to expedite the movement of goods and people, reduce congestion and delays, and lower the cost of cross-border trade

SADC has made a commitment to implementing such bilateral agreements throughout the region.

South Africa is in discussion with Zimbabwe about having a one-stop border post at Beitbridge, which is notorious for its congestion and long delays. The committee heard from Department of Home Affairs officials that a single visa for the region was also planned once systems have been integrated and secured.

The one-stop border post facility and access roads to Lebombo-Ressano Garcia have already been built and were just awaiting the go-ahead from the South African and Mozambican governments to begin operating. Each country would have a designated area in the combined facility for customs control but housing them in one unit would mean that goods would only have to be offloaded and loaded back onto trucks once for inspection.

South African Revenue Service senior executive Kosie Louw said the benefits of one-stop border posts were reduced border crossing times and reduced logistics costs. Further, they simplified and harmonised border control and administration, and integrated risk and information management.

A reduction in corruption and illegal imports was another benefit, Mr Louw said. Frequent travellers will be processed speedily through the use of fingerprints. A key element of the agreement is to provide for extraterritorial jurisdiction at the commonly held border posts and to deal with arrest, detention and seizure of goods. Both parties will be entitled to apply their own domestic customs laws within the common control zone.

The formal agreement for the project was signed between the two countries in September 2007 and the Cabinet gave its approval in August 2011 for the bilateral legal framework to be finalised and presented to Parliament. Source: BDlive.co.za

South Africa to introduce Smartcard ID

The South African government has reaffirmed that the green barcoded identity (ID) book will be phased out and replaced with a new smartcard ID after Cabinet endorsed a Department of Home Affairs (DHA) pilot project to test the hardware and software used to produce the cards. The new card would be phased in over a period of about four years and would embrace a contactless chip, which Cabinet said was based on international trends and standards.

The smartcard solution would also be integrated with the deployment of a new National Identity System that would digitally capture biometric and biographical details of all South Africans and foreign nationals living inside South Africa. Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma reported recently that the integrated system would be linked to systems for movement control, permitting, as well as asylum seeker and refugee management.

The DHA planned to issue some 2 000 smartcard ID’s during the pilot phase, which was unveiled to lawmakers earlier in the month. The pilot phase would prioritise people applying for IDs for the first time and was likely to cost about R5-million.

The first issue of the smartcard would be free of charge, with the cost implications for reissuance yet to be determined.The test phase would enable the department to test its systems and enable government to procure the required machinery to produce the volume of cards that will be required to phase out the green barcoded ID books. No indication was given as to when a tender would be issued for the procurement of the full-scale system, or what the solution was likely to cost.

The department would collaborate with the Departments of Transport, Health and Social Development to integrate the smartcard with other official documents, such as drivers and firearm licences, social grants and those that would be associated with access to the proposed National Health Insurance scheme. Source: Creamer Media