For some the government dropped a bombshell when the chief whip announced governments intention to pass into law the contentious Customs Control and Customs Duty bills prior to the 2014 national elections.

Quintus van der Merwe, of Shepstone & Wylie Attorneys, says, “While this announcement will no doubt cause flutters in the clearing industry and for the many people that will be affected by the new Customs bills, on reflection it is highly unlikely that these laws will immediately come into force and effect anytime soon.”

Save for the Revenue Law Amendment Bill, the other bills will be reliant on rules which still have to be finalised and published for comment.

Van der Merwe adds,“This is a huge task and the Customs Bills will only come into effect on a date to be proclaimed in the future. The reality is that even if the Bills are passed into law before the elections, they will not come into force or effect anytime soon.”

Van der Merwe comments that the bills willonly come into operation on a date determined by the President by proclamation.

This view is supported by section 944 of the Customs Control Bill, which provides:

“(1) This act is called the Customs Control Act, 2013, and takes effect on a date determined by the president by proclamation in the Government Gazette, subject to subsection (2) and section 943.

(2)   A   date may not be determined in terms of subsection (1) for the commencement of this Act unless and until –

(a)    the Customs Duty Act is amended by the addition of a customs tariff in an annexure to that Act; and

(b)    the Excise Duty Act is amended by the addition of an excise tariff in an annexure to that act.”

Van der Merwe concludes, “While there is no need to panic in the immediate future, these bills are clearly a priority for government, and the industry needs to start preparations for the inevitable.”

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