National Treasury briefed the Committee again on the International Agreement on the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI). The background to CABRI and its aims were outlined. It was a key vehicle for implementation of the Good Financial Governance Action Plan in
South African Revenue Service briefed the Committee on the Istanbul Convention, which was concerned with the import of goods into a country for a temporary period.
International Agreement on the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI): National Treasury (NT) Briefing
Ms Lesley Fisher, Director: National Treasury, noted that the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI), formed in 2004, was an independent professional network of Senior Budget Officials (SBOs) in ministries of finance and planning. The International Agreement on CABRI had been signed by the Minister of Finance on 7 August 2007 and was approved by Cabinet on 24 October 2007. National Treasury had previously, on 13 November, requested the Portfolio Committee to ratify the CABRI agreement, but the Committee had been unable to do so because there had not been an official referral.
Ms Fisher reminded the Committee of the key elements of CABRI. It was a key vehicle for implementation of the Good Financial Governance Action Plan in
There was growing interest in CABRI and even since the last presentation to the Committee in November 2007 its membership had increased by one member; there were now 29 members. A CABRI seminar had been held in December 2007 in
Ms Fisher noted that the draft Memorandum of Understanding formed the basis of the existing structure of the informal network. It would enable financial independence from any national government and other regional bodies. It supported funding arrangements and cooperation with regional and international bodies.
Ms Fisher summarised the key elements of the CABRI International Agreement. There were 6 founding organisations, including
Mr M Johnson (ANC) asked why
Mr Johnson asked for clarification regarding the role of parliament and its committees in relation to CABRI. He wondered if it was simply a matter of ratifying the agreement or if there were issues relating to governance and oversight to be considered.
The Chairperson reminded Members that the founding members of CABRI had already agreed that
Ms Fisher noted that Article 5 of the Agreement stipulated that
Ms Fisher further noted that parliament’s role in relation to such agreements was set out in Section 231 of the Constitution and that National Treasury (NT) would keep members updated through briefings, its website and the Annual Report. There was also an opportunity to network with European Union parliamentarians later in the year to look at issues of public finance and legislative oversight.
Mr J Marais (DA) noted that membership currently appeared to be limited to sub Saharan Africa and said that it was important for such a network to be fully inclusive of all the countries on the continent. There were smaller countries such as the
Ms Fisher affirmed that all African countries were eligible to join CABRI and that the current secretariat endeavoured to encourage participation from all countries. There would be an opportunity at the official launch in
Mr Johnson argued strongly that in order to exercise any oversight role it was vital that the Committee, was regularly informed of all the work of CABRI. It was not possible to exercise this role or to critique the process without a thorough understanding of the issues. He also asked about the experience of other African parliamentarians in relation to such processes.
Ms Fisher replied that the focus in CABRI was more on SBOs of member countries, and less on parliamentarians. However, for example, at the
The Chairperson concurred and reminded members of their mandate in relation to this professional international network.
The motion to recommend ratification to the full House was adopted by the Committee.
Convention on Temporary Admission (
Ms Varsha Singh, Manager:Customs, SARS that the World Customs Organisation (WCO), of which
Ms Singh noted that the Convention on Temporary Admission (the Istanbul Convention) was adopted by the WCO on 26 June 1990, and it came into force in November 1993. 51 countries had signed.
Ms Singh noted that the Istanbul Convention concerned the import of goods into a country for a temporary period, when goods were not intended for final consumption in that country. It streamlined the documentation required for temporary importation of goods, reduced the costs to business of working across international borders, promoted the easy access of international professionals and other commercial visitors to signatory countries, and contributed generally to the development of world trade. It allowed for the advance completion of documentation and was of particular relevance to international events such as the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup in
The Convention allowed for the movement of relevant goods between countries, free of customs duties and VAT, through issuing, by national Chambers of Commerce, of carnets (single customs documents). There were two types – one for motor vehicles and trailers, and one for all other goods. The Istanbul Convention made the issuing authority responsible to the relevant tax authority for the duties and taxes outstanding if the terms of the carnet were broken – for instance, if goods were not re-exported within the prescribed term.
The Convention consisted of 34 Articles and 13 Annexes. In 2005
Mr Erich Kieck, Head:Customs, SARS, further clarified that
Mr K Moloto (ANC) asked about the difference between the single administration document (SAD) and the ‘carnet’.
Mr Kieck replied that the SAD differed from the carnet in the sense that the SAD was the normal documentation by which the international movement of goods was regulated in
Mr B Mnguni (ANC) asked what were the disadvantages of the carnet system.
Mr Kieck replied that there were none, except that perhaps the Convention increased SARS’s workload.
Mr S Marais (DA) talked about his own experience of situations where the Convention was not in place and the ensuing chaos. He strongly supported the aims of the Convention and agreed with SARS that it was imperative for
Ms N Mokoto (ANC) asked for clarity on the prime aim of the Convention.
Mr Kieck explained that the Istanbul Convention was an attempt to simplify and unify the various separate conventions which had hitherto existed. It governed a range of different types of goods for temporary admission into one overarching document.
Mr Krieck added that in South Africa SARS handled about five million SADs and about four thousand carnets each year. This illustrated that the SAD was the rule and the carnet the exception in the import and export of goods.
He assured the Committee that the key to combating possible corruption in the customs environment was having effective control systems. To this end SARS was ensuring that there were sufficient checks and balances between the central administration and branch offices.
The Committee resolved unanimously to recommend that the House approve the accession to the remaining Annexes B2 to B9, C, D and E of the Istanbul Convention.
The meeting was adjourned.
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