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South African Customs Management Goes Digital

by Caroline Vutagwa
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The border post of South Africa has now gone digital as the SA Revenue Service (SARS) has introduced a new digital customs management systems.

“This is a very important milestone,” Gordhan told media at Megawatt Park in Sunninghill, Johannesburg. “We will be one of the few countries in the world that has completely digitized customs processes,” said the Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The new system centralizes the clearing of all import and export declarations and uses a single processing engine. This helps to reduce red tape. The system was effective on 17th August after running at the same time with the old one for six months during a testing phase.

“This digitized customs process helps legal trade to happen and happen faster,” Gordhan explained.

“There has been a huge reduction in time for those that are legitimate traders. What the system does is to make it [trade] fully electronic, get many middle people out of the way and allows businesses to get their goods quickly,” he added.

The minister said that last year more than 4.3 million containers worth R2.5 trillion moved across the country’s borders, adding that SARS customs officials used about 16 million pieces of paper to process 5.5 million declarations received at the time

“The customs management system now eliminates virtually 99 percent if not all of that paper,” he said.

Gordhan said the new system would improve competitiveness and reduce crime by detecting unlawful goods more promptly. It had better security and risk detection elements meaning that people “can’t play around with the numbers”.

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