PRETORIA, Friday 24 January 2020 – Today the South African Revenue Service (SARS) hosted an event to celebrate International Customs Day, which is held around the world on 26 January annually.
This year, the theme, which is set by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), is “Customs fostering sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.
Every year, International Customs Day (ICD) is held on January 26, which is the day the Customs Cooperation Council (CCC) held its inaugural session in 1953. The CCC adopted the working name, World Customs Organisation (WCO) in 1994. Each year, the day is celebrated around a theme selected by the WCO Secretariat and communicated to all 180 WCO Members.
The SARS Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter, in delivering the keynote address, spoke about how the theme is centred on the role that Customs plays in protecting society, in administering trade and supporting economic growth and development, as well as in protecting the environment.
In terms of the first element i.e. protecting society, the Commissioner spoke about SARS’ efforts to address the movement of illicit goods and persons across our borders (the illicit economy).
He said the reconstituted Illicit Economy Unit, which focused on illicit activities such as tobacco smuggling, illegal imports, counterfeit goods, etc., is working closely with other partner agencies such as the NPA, and was already starting to see some successes. These have netted an amount of R 2.6 billion in recovered taxes since 1 April 2019.
“While the recovery of revenue is critical in responding to the illicit economy, we have also doubled our efforts in seizing and removing illicit products from circulation, thereby disrupting operations of those who are hell-bent on undermining our laws and regulations.”
He said it was SARS’ intention to understand the illicit economy better, and in so doing, create the necessary capacity to fortify the existing programmes that deal with it within the SARS mandate.
There is an important need to deal with all illicit activities that have assumed unacceptable criminal proportions. SARS, which is a custodian of confidential information, has witnessed an increase in criminal activity directed at its officials, which include stealing of confidential information and laptops. Despite these criminal acts our system have not been breached and our information remains intact and secure. It has consequently become increasingly important that all these criminal activities are combatted.
- The Commissioner’s address can be accessed here.
- For the presentation shared at International Customs Day on the illicit economy event, click here.
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