Importers in East Africa will from July, operate under a common Customs bond, to guarantee uniform import duties and taxes across all partner states.
Currently, the value of Customs bonds varies from country to country because of the application of different duty rates, valuation and sensitivity of goods.
Kenya requires importers of transit goods to secure a Customs bond issued by an insurance company, while delicate or sensitive cargo requires a bank or cash guarantee. In Uganda and Rwanda, the Customs bond is issued by an insurance company with rates based on the taxes charged by the destination country.
According to the East Africa Community Single Custom Territory Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, the common Customs bond will reduce the cost of doing business and goods turnaround time.
This common Customs bond is expected to be adopted during the Council of Ministers in July as part of the pillar to create a Customs Union. It is meant to create a level playing field for the region’s producers by imposing uniform competition laws, Customs procedures and external tariffs on goods imported from countries outside the EAC.
To secure cargo movement in the region, revenue commissioners from Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda in attendance, say they are already implementing cargo tracking systems and before the end of this year, there will be one data control centre to monitor and track cargo.
The new data control centre involves computerisation of all Customs systems and it will help in enhancing online tools, which include a regional dashboard, transport observatory system and a geographic information system.
A regional cargo tracking system is already operational on the Northern Corridor and has reduced cargo loss to close to zero in 2019.
According to the committee, the EAC secretariat in collaboration with Trade Mark East Africa and other partner states particularly the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) are looking into the possibility of interfacing the TRA Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTs) platform with existing ECTS systems along the central corridor.
Kenya Revenue Authority regional co-ordinator Southern Region Kenneth Ochola said they are setting up internal mechanisms in consultations with the Kenya Bureau of Standards to monitor compliance.
South Africa Unions Reject Government Plan to Review Pay
The South African labour unions have rejected a government proposal to review planned increases for civil servants days before they were due to be implemented.
The Public Servants Association, which represents 230,000 government workers, says the state has asked to review the last leg of a three-year pay agreement because it couldn’t afford it.
The Public Servants Association says the timing of the proposal, a few days before the adjustments were due to be implemented, speaks of a government that regards public servants as an easy target to resolve its financial woes.
The Central Executive Committee of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the country’s biggest labor federation, says if the proposal made its way into the budget speech it will be seen as a declaration of war.
South Africa Raises $1.1 Billion Bailout for Ailing Airways
South Africa has almost doubled its funding for the national airline to 16.4 billion rand ($1.1 billion), cash which will go towards supporting a restructuring plan for the almost insolvent carrier.
The bailout will be used to service and pay debt previously guaranteed by the state over the “medium term,” according to the country’s Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni.
This amount compares with 9.2 billion rand earmarked for South African Airways in October.
SAA has been a drain on the National Treasury for several years racking up losses of more than R32 billion over the past decade.
Late last year, the government placed the airline on a local form of bankruptcy protection, and administrators have set about reducing costs by closing routes and considering asset sale.
However, the Finance Minister has often stated his reluctance to support SAA while faced with bigger problems such as the $30 billion of debt owed by state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings.
In addition to Treasury funds, SAA was last month, given access to R3.5 billion from the state-owned Development Bank of Southern Africa.
South Africa to Establish $2 Billion Sovereign Wealth Fund
South Africa has announced that it will use money from the sale of broadband spectrum and mining royalties to establish a 30 billion-rand ($2 billion) sovereign wealth fund, according to the country’s Finance Minister,Tito Mboweni.
Its establishment was first mooted at least 10 years ago.
The proposed fund comes at a time when Africa’s most industrialised economy is struggling to contain rising debt amid sluggish economic growth and a budget deficit projected to widen to a near three-decade high of 6.8% in the coming fiscal year.
Mboweni says the legislative framework for the fund will be submitted to the parliament.
Funding will come from the government’s plans to sell broadband spectrum this year, along with royalties from petroleum, gas and mineral rights, as well as the sale of non-core assets, future surpluses and savings.
The government is also pressing ahead with plans to form a state bank that will operate as a retail financial institution premised on commercial principles, he said.
However, the Reserve Bank is yet to grant the proposed lender an operating license.