JOHANNESBURG – Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan says by 2014, South African Revenue Service (Sars) had grown into a world-class efficient tax administration.
In Pretoria on Tuesday Gordhan was first witness called at the commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance in Sars.
Retired judge Robert Nugent was appointed as the inquiry’s commissioner, he said the probe will focuse on the four-year period between April 2014 until March this year.
Suspended Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane was appointed as the tax boss in September 2014, it is believed under his leadership the downfall of Sara begun.
Gordhan went back in time when started his testimony when he was appointed as commissioner in 1999.
“By 2014, if not earlier, the Sars was a world-class modern, efficient and respected tax and customs administration. South Africans who worked for Sars held their heads high both within South African and indeed globally as well.”
He said Sars became a model for government departments.
Gordhan said, “People were proud to say they work for Sars and would probably want Sars to be part of their CVs so they can move on to higher offers, if you like, within the public and private sector as well. It became an example of what transformation would be and what it could achieve.”
He also said the systems he introduced at the revenue service helped to develop a compliant tax-paying public and efficient revenue collection administration.
Judge Nugent referred to the minister as the architect of the revenue service system.
Gordhan said one of their main aims was to have a compliant tax base, “Dramatically improved enforcement, that’s the key theme because if there’s no risk of you being caught or there’s no risk of being prosecuted as is the case now in some instances, then why must you comply with the law? That’s the logical question people would ask.”
The now Public Enterprises minster said that during his time at SARS their strategy to transform the revenue collection into an efficient system.
“And that would enable us to achieve better revenue collection, better customer experience, tax fair experience, improve compliance and risk reduction, enhance human capacity, heighten border security, and so forth.”
The inquiry was commissioned to establish why South Africa has experienced a R50 billion revenue shortfall including the cause of mass exodus of employees at Sars.