Who’s Responsibility Is Self-Compliance?

          Well, it may depend on who you ask. As an importer or exporter the concept of Customs self-compliance is implied to be ‘you’ off-course. But is this really the case? Are you the only role-player affecting your compliance levels? What about the concept of accountability, and who is held financially liable when things go wrong?

          The answer to these questions will once again depend on who you ask. It will also depend on the specific circumstances in each particular situation. But, what I am referring to is how your company views compliance at large. What is the corporate culture of your organisation toward compliance, and what is the culture of your industry?

            From a SARS perspective, the first basic assumption is that people and companies want to be compliant. They want to do the right thing and are seeing to practice compliance at their own free will.

          People are hence given the benefit of the doubt by an organisation (SARS) who would otherwise be seen as draconian in nature. This aspect forms one of their first considerations when talking about risk.

          So, allow me to answer the big question by saying that… compliance is everyone’s responsibility. Compliance is something that must be practiced on every level of the organisation all the time. You may from time to time for example ask how your boss sees compliance, and your boss’s boss, and so on.

          You will also need to start looking around you, at your suppliers, and your supplier’s suppliers. Question how they see compliance.

          Also ask yourself how their compliance levels affect your own. Are you or any of your suppliers participating in the SARS PT (Preferred Trader) accreditation program?

          Who is supporting you and your organisation if you are involved in such a program?

          Are your overseas suppliers or buyers participating in a foreign Customs accreditation program and how do your own compliance levels affect theirs in turn?

          Will you at some point fall out of favour by a foreign buyer if you are not participating in the local Customs accreditation scheme?

          If you do not participate in the PT scheme, do you or your company conduct periodic audits and reviews of your Customs documents?

          Do you make use of independent third party auditors for your Customs work?

          Finally, how is legal liability treated versus commercial liability? And, if there is a difference, what does the Customs legislation say?

          While the answers to these questions will depend on your particular circumstances, this blog will explore the matter in some depth, while at the same time not being too technical.