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Sars’ LBC shouldn’t have been disbanded, Nugent inquiry hears

This was among the submissions from Sars stakeholder management executive Vincent Sibande at the inquiry in Pretoria.

Picture: Supplied

PRETORIA - A former manager in the South African Revenue Service (Sars)’disbanded large business centre (LBC) has testified that they were not warned of its dismantling and has urged that it be re-established urgently.

This was among the submissions from Sars stakeholder management executive Vincent Sibande at the Nugent Commission of Inquiry in Pretoria.

The LBC was a specialised centre set up to deal with the complex tax affairs of large corporates.

Retired Judge Robert Nugent has been appointed to investigate tax administration and governance since the appointment of Tom Moyane in 2014.

Sibande says the closure of the centre came as a complete surprise.

When he was asked: "Did you recommend that the LBC be dismantled?"

He responded: “Did that conversation take place? That’s the question. It never happened. The only time we got indication that the LBC was being dismantled is when the structure was reviewed to all managers.

Commissioner Michael Katz asked Sibande about a possible remedy to the current situation.

"Would you say Sars will be well advised to revive the whole LBC model?"

Sibande answered: “Without a doubt, in fact, it’s urgently required and that action should happen as in like yesterday.”

The commission heard there are processes underway to re-establish the centre, but it’s unclear when this will happen.

‘A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE SUFFERED’

A former Sars transfer pricing expert says the organisation has been broken and has deeply hurt many people who were inadvertently caught up in a political fight.

She left Sars in 2016 to join the private sector after she says she was subjected to a disciplinary process which led to her lodging a police complaint of intimidation.

Nishana Gosai was asked what recommendations she has to fix Sars, she started by saying what has happened, should never be allowed to happen again.

“I think a lot of people have suffered, it’s left them broken. It’s broken people and it’s broken the organisation. And people need healing. People who were just technicians who were just interested in working for the higher purpose and just enjoying their jobs, and I was one of those people.

“We got caught up in a political narrative that we shouldn’t be part of in the first place.”

Gosai says the position of Sars commissioner should be depoliticised and called for greater parliamentary oversight.

The hearings resume on Friday.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)