Ramaphosa details scope of inquiry into Sars

The president says taxpayers need to know their hard-earned rands are spent wisely.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: @MYANC/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has given details of what the commission of inquiry into the South African Revenue Service (Sars) will investigate.

Ramaphosa told Parliament on Wednesday that the commission will be headed by retired Judge Robert Nugent - assisted by tax and commercial law expert Michael Katz, Advocate Mabongo Masilo and Vuyo Kahla.

Because of the urgency for Sars to meet its revenue-collection targets, Ramaphosa says he wants an interim report as soon as possible, but no later than the end of September, with a final report due by November.

The president says taxpayers need to know their hard-earned rands are spent wisely.

"The stabilisation of the South African Revenue Service has received priority attention."

The scope of the inquiry will include investigating whether any politically connected persons, or people linked to Sars top management, benefitted from changes to its policy.

Probing allegations of unauthorised bonuses and withholding tax refunds, as well as the exodus of senior staff and alleged coercion of some officials to resign, will also form part of the brief.

The inquiry will be separate from the disciplinary proceedings against suspended Sars commissioner, Tom Moyane, under whose watch public confidence in the tax agency has plummeted and revenue shortfalls have soared.

The terms of reference for the commission have yet to be published in the Governmet Gazette. The Presidency says they will cover the following:

  • The adequacy and legality of steps taken by Sars to address revenue shortfalls in the last two years, including allegations of unauthorised bonuses paid to top executives and the withholding of refunds owed to ordinary tax payers.

  • The performance of tax administrative duties and the application of discretionary powers required or enabled by existing tax legislation.

  • Adherence to tax administrative processes, and whether deviations from established processes unfairly benefited politically connected people and persons connected to top Sars managers.

  • Adherence to customs and excise provisions, with particular reference to tobacco products.

  • Adherence to personnel policies and HR practice, in light of the exit of senior staff and the alleged coercion of Sars officials to resign.

  • The impact of the conduct of Sars management on the public image of Sars.

  • Impact of any change in Sars' operating model on the effectiveness of its operations.

  • The integrity of supply-chain management and tendering processes.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)