On 08 March the South African Revenue Service (Sars) announced that it had taken several precautionary measures in response to risk of infection from the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said Sars tax, customs and excise operations would continue as normal at all Sars branches, offices and ports of entry. These measures are aligned with and in support of other initiatives taken by the Department of Health.
All branches will make hand sanitisers available to taxpayers and will ensure that all working and service areas that are most frequently touched are kept clean with specialised detergents. Information will also be shared with taxpayers on basic steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In addition, the Sars Commissioner said that, “In the past few weeks, Sars has made available its person protective equipment to Customs officials at all ports of entry, including masks, gloves as well as hand sanitisers in line with National Government Guidelines”.
Sars Customs officials will also be supported by health officials who will screen travellers entering South Africa.
Sars officials are also in contact with Customs authorities from neighbouring states to share information regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and steps to mitigate the risk of infection.
“I call on all taxpayers and traders to take note of the information available to take steps to protect their health and well-being. Our core message to our employees, as well as taxpayers, traders and travellers is to not panic, but to practise self-care and consideration to others.”
“We want to reassure all taxpayers, traders and travellers that SARS, along with other government departments, is playing its part in responding to the COVID-19 virus.”
Sars will provide further communiques when necessary.
Story by: Riaan de Lange