SARS says it's on top of things as SA confirms third case of coronavirus

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As South Africa confirmed its third case of coronavirus (COVID-19) on Sunday, the revenue receiver says wants to "reassure" taxpayers that it's on top of things as far as controlling imports is concerned and that its customs and excise operations will continue as normal.

The confirmation of business as usual at all the country’s ports of entry will likley alleviate pressure on the economy that has already been included among those expected to perform poorly as a result of the virus. South Africa is among the G20 countries that ratings agency, Moody's cut their growth forecasts on Friday. The agency lowered South Africa's growth forecast for 2020 from 0.7% to 0.4% in anticipation that the country will be "hurt" by the impact of the coronavirus.

READ | Moody's cuts growth forecasts as coronavirus expected to slow economic activity

Some of the businesses in the country have started feeling the impact of the pandemic as they are not able to source some of the products they import from China and other parts of the world. Massmart’s Builders Warehouse is among the retailers that have notification boards displayed in some of its stores, explaining that the virus has resulted in shortage of some merchandise.

Any interruption in the functioning of the South African Revenue Service’s (SARS) customs operations could disrupt the processing of imports into the country and put further brakes on economic activity.

The Customs department processes goods that have been brought into the country for revenue collection purposes. SARS Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter said the organisation has put in place several precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus, including screening of travelers entering South Africa, with the help of health officials.

"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," said Kieswetter.

The Commissioner said SARS’ customs officials have been armed with "person protective equipment" at all ports of entry, including masks, gloves as well as hand sanitizers. He added that SARS officials are in constant contact with customs authorities from neighbouring countries to share information regarding any developments on coronavirus.

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