SACU summit set for Swaziland

Sharon Kavhu

Delegates from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) member states are in Swaziland for a five-day meeting of SACU institutions.

The meeting which runs from the 19-23 June is the 44th SACU gathering. On June 19, the meeting was on the Finance and Audit Committee which was chaired by Botswana. Today there is a SACU Commission which is being chaired by Swaziland in Ezulwini.

In a press statement, the Executive Secretary of SACU Paulina Elago said the 31st meeting of the Council of Ministers will take place on June 21st.

“The 31st Meeting of the Council of Ministers, chaired by the Kingdom of Swaziland, will take place on the 21st June 2017, at Ezulwini. This meeting will precede the 5th SACU Summit of the Heads of State and Government, which will be hosted by His Majesty King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland and Chairperson of the SACU Heads of State and Government, on the 23rd June 2017, in Lozitha,” said Elago.

She said the 5th SACU Summit will be attended by the Heads of State and Government and representatives of SACU member states. SACU comprises Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland as the chair.

Elago added: “The main focus of the summit is to consider the report of the SACU Council of Ministers on progress to implement the Roadmap to re-invigorate the SACU Work Programme.

“This was agreed to by the Heads of State and Government during the special meeting on the 12th November 2015, in Windhoek, Namibia. The report will also provide an update on the SACU Trade Agenda, focusing on the trade negotiations and trade facilitation programmes.”

SACU is the world’s oldest customs union, at 105 years, but has been muddled by complains over the skewed revenue formula that favours South Africa.

SACU’s aim is to maintain the free interchange of goods between member countries. It provides for a common external tariff and a common excise tariff to this common customs area. All customs and excise collected in the common customs area are paid into South Africa’s National Revenue Fund. The revenue is shared among members according to a revenue-sharing formula as described in the agreement. South Africa is the custodian of this pool. Only the BNLS (Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland) shares are calculated with South Africa receiving the residual. SACU revenue constitutes a substantial share of the state revenue of the BLNS countries.

However, in recent years, the bone of contention from the other members has been that South Africa enjoys the larger portion of the cake while others have to make do with the remainder, a scenario that has put challenges in revenue collection in other smaller nations, including Namibia.

Ironically, other countries, save for Botswana, are also part of the common rand monetary area in which the SA rand is interchangeably used as legal tender in those countries.

SACU has been locked in negotiations at both heads of state and inter-ministerial levels for the past three years to find common ground on how best to share the income that comes from the revenue inflows

June 2017
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