SA tax revenue jumps by 10%

Nearly R900 billion was collected in the last fiscal year, though this is still well below SA’s expenses.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivered SARS’ revenue collection figures for the 2013/2014 financial year in Johannesburg, 1 April 2014. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Government collected just under R900 billion in tax revenue in the last fiscal year, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Tuesday.

The exact figure of R899,7 billion is R700 million more than the Ministry of Finance's latest estimate.

It's also around R86 billion more than last year's collections - an increase of over 10 percent.

In total, over R1 trillion was initially collected, but R191,2 billion was paid back in refunds.

Gordhan said drivers of revenue in 2012/13 included the mining and manufacturing sectors, which grew at double-digit rates in the fourth quarter of 2013 after poor performances earlier in the year.

Despite the revenue increase, Gordhan has kept his budget deficit estimate for the 2013/14 fiscal year, which ended at midnight last night, at four percent of gross domestic product.

Government expenditure is anticipated at just below R1,1 trillion, meaning tax revenue does not cover all costs.

But Gordhan trimmed the deficit forecasts for the upcoming financial year in his February Budget Speech, vowing to keep spending in check even as the country heads for general elections in a month's time.

"The 2014 budget projects that spending will be well contained over the medium-term and government remains committed to an expenditure ceiling. Given this commitment, the buoyant revenue will contribute to our efforts at fiscal consolidation," he said in a statement.

The minister said revenue collection should rise as exporters benefited from a weaker rand, which shed more than 20 percent of its value against the dollar last year and started 2014 on the back foot.

The currency has however recouped some of this year's losses amid a global uptick in risk appetite.

Fitch ratings agency, which rates South Africa's creditworthiness at BBB with a stable outlook, said the budget showed Gordhan's fiscal consolidation plans were on track despite weak economic growth and the upcoming elections.