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Politically connected persons scored lucrative PPE tenders, Sars audit reveals

Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter gave details of the dodgy dealings during a meeting with the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef).

Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG – South African Revenue Service (Sars) Commissioner Edward Kieswetter on Thursday said that the revenue service’s audit had so far revealed that personal protective equipment (PPE) tenders worth more than R1 billion were awarded to politically exposed individuals.

Kieswetter gave details of the dodgy dealings during a meeting with the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef).

He said that the Sars audit into PPE tenders found gross abuse of the system with pubs, car washing businesses, bakeries and events companies awarded contracts.

Kieswetter said that about 22 companies linked to politically exposed individuals managed to score the lucrative tenders.

In one case, a R60 million tender was awarded verbally.

The ongoing audit also revealed that many of these companies were not tax compliant. Sars referred at least three companies that got contracts worth R165 million for criminal investigations.

Kieswetter said that investigations continued but Sars was facing an uphill battle.

“Currently we are resource-constrained and we do need to increase our audit capacity, our criminal investigation capacity, our forensic audit capacity, our customs area, financial structuring – so these are areas that we desperately need to have more money so that we can have a better response,” Kieswetter said.

The Sars commissioner was also concerned that corruption in government would hurt the organisation’s tax collection drive.

Taxpayers were losing faith in the state as graft continued unabated, even during a public health crisis.

The projected tax revenue collection was revised down by R304 billion as a result of the nationwide lockdown.

Kieswetter made a plea against a tax revolt, warning that it would have a devastating impact on the poor.

“We are angry and outraged at the corruption and the wastage in government, but at the same time, if you were to withhold your money, you will harm and hurt the most vulnerable in society. We at Sars, we defend the poorest,” he said.

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