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(News24) – South African businesses need to understand the full implications of changes to customs and excise control legislation. They necessarily have to adapt their procedures, according to Joan Warburton-McBride, CEO of the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).
The new legislation aims to modernise customs and excise control in SA and bring it in line with the recommendations of the World Customs Organisation.
Clearing and forwarding agents and companies involved in importing, exporting and the manufacturing of excisable goods — such as cosmetics, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, motor vehicles, and electronics — will all be affected.
“As many JCCI members are involved in international trade, we are doing whatever we can to alert them to the substantial and significant changes in customs legislation,” said Warburton-McBride. “Businesses need to understand the implications of the changes so that they can adapt their procedures accordingly.”
She said there is a focus shift in the new legislation, with the emphasis now being on self-compliance and self-assessment. “Companies will have a greater responsibility in administering and declaring the duty liability on imports and exports and as such, it is vital that they understand the changes and prepare their company systems to comply.”
The legislation has expanded the South African Revenue Service’s (Sars’s) investigative capability to monitor compliance. Customs will be tracking goods through the entire supply chain and the onus will be on the company in question to notify customs ahead of each stage in the cycle. Tax authorities will be able to conduct retrospective audits going back three years.
Where Sars suspects fraud, there is no time limit to how far back it can audit the company.
Another feature of the new legislation is the many changes in terminology. Warburton-McBride advised companies to familiarise themselves with this without delay. “We urge companies to get their systems organised and ensure their staff are trained,” she said.
The JCCI will run a customs course to explain the legislative changes and the implications for companies.
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