Helena Tripmaker (South Africa)

Master of International Customs Law and Administration (MICLA), September 2011

Current Job Position: Senior Manager Key Industry Engagement – Customs Operations – South African Revenue Service (SARS)

After completing my studies I was selected by our administration to start and head up a new division in Customs Operations which deals with beleaguered industries which have been identified as priority by Government.  Adhering to the Government initiative SARS have initiated engagements with relevant role players like industry bodies and associations in the various industries identified with the aim of identifying opportunities for collaboration between industries, labour and SARS.

Regular meetings are scheduled with the industry bodies and associations of the identified industries with a view to identify systemic solutions to the gaps identified in the respective value chains in so far as it relates to import, export and manufacturing under rebate.

The objectives of our engagement are the cross pollination of ideas and providing advice regarding regulatory, strategic and key policy issues to enhance trade facilitation, voluntary compliance and to address customs and excise fraud.  We also seek to develop programmes aimed at improving compliance within the industries and contributing to the formulation of best practice with the facilitation of trade in accordance with all the Acts administered by SARS.

Results to date are very encouraging in that we have a better understanding of information flow between key industry players and Customs which places us in a better position to identify likely non-compliance high risk areas.  In the process we have also fostered symbiotic relations with industry players and labour organisations.

The knowledge gained with my studies stood me in great stead to deal with confidence with the various industry bodies and to be able to speak with authority on various matters dealt with by Customs such as intellectual property rights and supply chain security which were areas where customs officers usually had very limited knowledge.

On a personal level I am a keen traveller with a wide scope of interests such as gardening, fishing, scrapbooking, cooking and baking.  I also follow with interest the rugby and cricket matches between South Africa and the rest of the world especially when playing against Australia and New Zealand.