Customs Duty Bill [B43-2013]; Customs and Excise Amendment Bill [B44-2013]; Customs Control Bill [B45-2013]: deliberations and adoption

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Finance Standing Committee

04 February 2014
Chairperson: Mr T Mufamadi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Standing Committee on Finance deliberated and adopted the Customs Duty Bill, Customs and Excise Amendment Bill and the Customs Control Bill.

Customs Duty Bill [B43-2013]
There were no proposed Committee amendments for the Customs Duty Bill [B45-2013]. The Democratic Alliance said that they had received SARS’s written response only that morning and therefore Members needed time to consider SARS’ responses to the Customs Duty and the Customs and Excise Bill. The ANC said the Committee had gone through a laborious process the previous day going through the Bills and that the Committee could not be expected to carry the burden of nor be held ransom by a member who had been absent. The Committee agreed to the Bill B43-2013, a Section 77 Money Bill. The DA’s objections, that the SARS PowerPoint presentation the previous day had not been accompanied by a written response or by the draft legislation, were noted.

Customs and Excise Amendment Bill [B44-2013] / Standing Committee Amendments to Customs and Excise Amendment Bill [B44 A-2013]
The Democratic Alliance said there were nine amendments in the “A” Bill and that it was not procedural to read B44-2013 and B44A-2013 at the same time. Other parties felt the amendments were of a technical nature and this was permissible. The Parliamentary Senior Legal Advisor was consulted on the issue of procedure. The Legal Advisor said the Committee was in charge of Committee business and the Committee decided the procedure for Committee business. The DA wanted clause 5, amending section 18 of the Act, to be deleted so that section 18 was left as is. This would allow delivery of goods under bond to City Deep. This was not supported because it would nullify the concept of inland terminals and because there was no definition of inland port in the original Act or the Bill. The DA requested that its proposed amendments on section 18 and on the fall-back clause be circulated.

The Chairperson declined.

The DA requested that its strong objection to this be noted, saying that if the Bill was not processed formally, it left it open to a legal challenge.

The Committee agreed to the Customs and Excise Amendment Bill, a Section 75 Bill, with amendments. The DA's objection that the Bill was processed within minutes of receiving it from SARS, was noted.

Customs Control Bill [B45-2013] / Standing Committee Amendments to Customs Control Bill [B45 A-2013]
After a brief discussion on how to approach the Bill, the Chairperson ruled that the amendments would be considered with the Bill but that any further amendments could be put forward for consideration.

The DA put forward a number of proposals on inland ports, City Deep’s status, when clearance declarations were due, on the customs authorities’ right to refuse or accept an amended clearance document and on rewriting clause 942. These were not accepted. The Committee then moved to adopt the Bill [B45-2013] with amendments. The DA’s objections were noted.
 

Meeting report

Customs Duty Bill [B43-2013]
There were no proposed Committee amendments on the Customs Duty Bill [B43-2013].

Mr T Harris (DA) said he had waited for SARS’s written response and only received it that morning and therefore Members needed time to consider SARS’ responses.

Mr Kosie Louw, SARS Chief Legal Officer, said there was nothing in the SARS document that was not in the previous day’s presentation as far as contentious issues were concerned.

Mr Harris said the current committee process was not appropriate, having only just received SARS’ written responses, and suggested that more time be given to the Customs Duty and the Customs and Excise Bills.

Mr D Van Rooyen (ANC) said the Committee had gone through a laborious process the previous day going through the Bills and that the Committee could not be expected to carry the burden of Mr Harris’ absence.

The Chairperson said the issues had been dealt with extensively the previous day.

Mr Harris strongly objected to the process being followed.

Dr Luyenge (ANC) said the Committee could not be held ransom by an absent member.

The Committee agreed to the Bill B43-2013, a Section 77 Money Bill. The DA’s objections, that the SARS PowerPoint presentation the previous day had not been accompanied by a written response or by the draft legislation, were noted.

Customs and Excise Amendment Bill [B44-2013] / Standing Committee Amendments to Customs and Excise Amendment Bill [B44 A-2013]
Mr Harris said there were nine amendments in the “A” Bill and that it was not procedural to read B44-2013 and B44 A -2013 at the same time.

Mr N Koornhof (COPE) said the amendments were of a technical nature and that the Parliamentary Senior Legal Advisor, Adv Frank Jenkins, could be consulted on the issue of procedure.

Adv Frank Jenkins, Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said the Committee was in charge of Committee business and the Committee decided the procedure for Committee business.

Mr Louw said that the reason for the amendments was to clarify translations in the original Bill.

Mr Harris said the DA wanted clause 5 in B44, amending section 18 of the existing Act, to be deleted so that section 18 was left as is. The purpose of Section 18 was to allow delivery of goods under bond to City Deep.

Mr Van Rooyen said that this was not supported as it would nullify the concept of inland terminals.

Ms Z Dlamini-Dubazana (ANC) said there was no definition of inland port in the original Act or the Bill and seconded Mr Van Rooyen.

Mr D Ross (DA) asked that the DA’s proposed amendments for section 18 and for the fall back clause be circulated.

The Chairperson declined and Mr Harris requested that the DA’s strong objection to this be noted. Mr Harris said that if the Bill was not processed formally it left it open to a legal challenge.

The Committee agreed to the Bill B44-2013, a Section 75 Bill, with amendments. The DA‘s objection, that the Bill was processed within minutes of receiving it from SARS, was noted.

Customs Control Bill [B45-2013] / Standing Committee Amendments to Customs Control Bill [B45 A-2013]
After a brief discussion on how to approach the Bill, the Chairperson ruled that the amendments would be considered with the first deliberations on the Bill but that any further amendments could be put forward for consideration.

Mr Harris said that provision should be made for a definition of an inland port under the section covering definitions.
 
Ms Dlamini-Dubazana disagreed.

Mr Harris said he did not believe that the changes in the Bill would preserve the ability to clear goods.

Mr Koornhof said three senior counsels had given their opinion that it would preserve the ability to clear goods and he supported their view.

Mr Harris wanted the DA’s objection to the Committee’s rejection to be noted.

He wanted clause 31 to be amended to retain City Deep’s status by the insertion of 31(1)(f) “ inland ports where cross border trains may enter or leave the Republic”

Ms J Tshabalala (ANC) did not accept this proposal

Mr Harris said he was concerned about City Deep retaining its status.

Under clause 32(1) he wanted a new subsection 32(1)(5) to be added which would recognise City Deep as an inland port.

The Chairperson said that the issue had been adequately dealt with the previous day.

Mr Harris proposed that a new subsection (g) be added to clause 90(1) which would allow for clearance declarations to be given: “within three working days of the arrival of the goods at the inland port.”

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana said she had issues with the use of the term 'inland port'.

Mr Louw said City Deep was a container terminal and that there was a definition of a container terminal on page 39 of Bill [B45-2013]. Currently goods were being moved on the basis of a manifest and under the new legislation it would change to a customs declaration. This declaration did not affect the seller or the importer. SARS needed the declaration to do a better risk assessment and this had been done in consultation with Transnet and the shipping lines, amongst others.

Mr Harris said that he wanted the DA’s objections noted, notwithstanding what SARS had just said.

He wanted the addition of a sub clause (iii) “if taken off, are not removed” inserted under clause 95 (1)(a). This would allow for equipment that was part of the ship to be temporarily taken off to increase working room.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana disagreed and said that that was not something that was measurable.

The DA’s objection to this was noted.

Mr Harris proposed an amendment to clause 174(b) which dealt with the customs authorities’ right to refuse or accept an amended clearance document. (See last page of document: Suggested Amendments)

Ms J Tshabalala (ANC) moved that the clause remain as it was and the DA’s objection was noted.

Mr Harris proposed that clause 942 be amended by changing the title and rewriting it with three subsections. (For full details see p2 of document: Suggested Amendments)

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana seconded by Ms F Adams (ANC) moved that the Bill be adopted as given by SARS.

The Committee then moved to adopt the Bill [B45-2013] with amendments.

Mr Harris asked that DA's objections be reflected in the minutes.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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