Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivers the 2014 Budget Speech in the National Assembly in Parliament, Cape Town. 26/02/2014, Siyabulela Duda, GCIS

Cape Town - The new Port of Entry Control Centre in Cape Town harbour has been established to help counter threats facing South Africa's maritime industry, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Friday.

“As a vigilant state, this is our response to the threats and opportunities facing our country in a maritime context,” he said at the opening of the centre, according to a copy of his speech.

The threats included undocumented foreign nationals entering the country, smugglers and contraband, and counterfeit goods.

“The inter-departmental Port of Entry Control Centre is the first maritime facility in the country where all relevant government services related to the movement of people and goods are rendered from the same building.”

Gordhan said the opening of the centre marked the start of a new way of managing maritime ports of entry. Its establishment should be viewed in the context of the country's economic, social security and regional objectives. He said the National Development Plan targeted an increase in trade within Southern Africa.

“To achieve these targets, South Africa will have to reduce delays and increase facilitation and risk management at border posts.”

Gordhan said the co-operation of the private sector would allow border authorities to more quickly process imports and exports, and thereby reduce costs.

“This kind of co-operation will enable immigration, police, agriculture, environmental and other regulators to contribute optimally to facilitating trade and visitor movements.”

Speaking at the event, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said the centre would bring together government departments and state agencies.

“This facility is a one-stop service centre for clients and members of the public,” she said.