Tag Archive | portfolio committee on home affairs

Border Authority to get grip on immigration

Border controls for trade as well…..

A Bill enabling the formation of an overall border authority to be known as the Border Management Authority has reachedborder lebombo Parliament following its publication for comment last October by the Minister of Home Affairs. The legislation will “allow for the transfer, assignment and designation of law enforcement functions on the country’s borders and at points of entry to this agency.”

The Authority’s objectives include the management of the movement of people crossing South African borders and putting in place “an enabling environment to boost legitimate trade.”  The Authority would be empowered to co-ordinate activities with other relevant state bodies and will also set up an inter-ministerial committee to handle departmental cross-cutting issues, a border technical committee and an advisory committee.

Mozambique border

sa moz logoThree years ago, Kosie Louw, then chief legal officer at SARS, told Parliament that a “one stop border post” to handle customs and immigration was being established at the Mozambique border.

An original document of intention was signed in September 2007 by both countries and consensus on all issues was reached between the two covering all the departments affected by cross-border matters.
Kosie Louw told the standing committee at the time that on finance the benefit of an OSBP was that goods would be inspected and cleared by the authorities of both countries with only one stop, which would encourage trade. In any country, he explained, there had to be two warehouses established, bonded and state warehouses.

Bonded and State warehouses

Bonded warehouses, he said, which were privately managed and licensed subject to certain conditions, were to allow imported goods to be stored temporarily in order to defer the payment of customs duties.

Duties and taxes were suspended for an approved period – generally two years, Louw said, but these had to be paid before the goods entered into the market or were exported. The licensee bore full responsibility for the duty and taxes payable on the goods, which could be removed only after all the customs requirements had been met.

State warehouses on the other hand, Louw said at the time, were managed by SARS for the safekeeping of uncleared,
detained,state warehouse seized or abandoned goods. They provided a secure environment for the storage of goods in which the State had an interest. Counterfeit and dangerous or hazardous goods were moved to specialised warehouses.

MPs noted that it had taken over six years for the Mozambique OSBP to be finalised which to them seemed an unduly long period. The SARS response was that that were many ramifications at international law but he added they had already had two discussions with Zimbabwe at that time.

Slow process

South Africa, he said, was looking at the establishment of more such posts and it was hoped it would take less time to reach an agreement as many lessons had been learnt through the Mozambique experience.

SARS, said losses obviously occurred through customs avoidance and evasion, so it was consequently very difficult tosa border beit bridge provide an overall figure on customs duty not being paid as evasion was evasion. Smuggling of goods such as narcotics, or copper, which could only be quantified on the basis of what had been seized. The same applied to the Beit Bridge border with Zimbabwe, where cigarette smuggling was of serious concern.

The overall principle of what was referred to then as an OSBP was for both countries to have one set of common warehouses for stop, declaration, search, VAT payments to South Africa. involving therefore vehicles going through only one process for both countries.

It seems that the new Bill is building on that experience but the whole process is taking an inordinate period of time put down to the fact that so many departments in two or three countries have to be consulted and consensus obtained.
Previous articles on category subject
Home Affairs gets tough on expired visas – ParlyReportSA
Customs Duty Bill cuts out inland ports – ParlyReportSA
Home Affairs fails on most targets – ParlyReportSA

 

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Home Affairs gets tough on expired visas

Fines for expired visas not working…

sent to clients 21 Jan…  Now that Parliament has resumed it will not be long before for the Portfolio Committee on Homevisa rules Affairs  considers public comment and input on amendments to the Immigration Act re-defining what the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) terms as “inadequate sanction on foreign persons who remain in South Africa after their visas have expired”.

The Committee is responding to the fact that it is the Minister’s opinion that fines on foreigners who overstay their welcome were not serving as a sufficient deterrent to cease the regular practice of non-residents to continue their stay beyond the expiry date of their visa.

Troublesome clause

Section 30 of the 2002 Immigration Act has already been amended a couple of times regarding either the wording itself, which has not stood up in court, or, in the opinion of the DHA is now insufficient in itself as a deterrent to the practice.

The wording of the last amendment had led to various interpretations and to quote the government gazette on the issue, “some holding the view that a foreigner must overstay a number of times to be declared undesirable while others hold the view that one instance of overstaying would result in a declaration of undesirable.”

Another way

visa with handThe issue has now been approached in a different manner, which as far as can be established would deny the holder ever returning to SA unless agreed to by the Minister. The proposed changes amend the anchor Act so that foreigners who overstay after the expiry of their visas do not qualify for a port of entry visa, a visa, admission into South Africa or a permanent resident permit during the relevant prescribed period.

This would seem to establish that the offending foreigner has no status as a visa holder at all when it expires and that person immediately becomes an undesirable entrant by definition as any conditions of entry no longer apply. The implications of being declared an undesirable entrant under these circumstances will be debated.

Written comment expired

Once any comments are received, such will be part of a debate as to whether the amending Bill should be accepted as it stands, any amendments agreed upon made, voted upon and passed to the National Assembly for “reading”. Written comment addressed to Parliament was stated as being until 20 January 2016. Whether any hearings were agreed upon is awaited.
Previous articles on category subject
Home Affairs gives reasons for visa changes – ParlyReportSA
Home Affairs fails on most targets – ParlyReportSA

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