Gi­gaba ‘hedg­ing bets’ with Sars probe

CityPress - - News - ABRAM MASHEGO abram.mashego@city­press.co.za

Trou­ble is brew­ing be­tween tax chief Tom Moy­ane and Malusi Gi­gaba af­ter the fi­nance min­is­ter an­nounced an in­quiry into the SA Rev­enue Service (Sars).

Sources who are close to Sars com­mis­sioner Moy­ane told City Press this week that Gi­gaba rushed to make the an­nounce­ment on Tues­day, be­fore they could dis­cuss de­tails of the probe into tax ad­min­is­tra­tion and gov­er­nance.

“He just spoke to Moy­ane about the in­quiry and said we should work and try to find so­lu­tions. The next thing he makes a pub­lic an­nounce­ment be­fore fi­nal­is­ing how that in­quiry will be car­ried out and its terms of ref­er­ence,” one of Moy­ane’s al­lies at the or­gan­i­sa­tion said.

An­other source in­sisted that Gi­gaba was “play­ing pol­i­tics” and hedg­ing his bets ahead of the ANC’s elec­tive con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber. If ANC deputy pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa wins the party’s pres­i­dency race next month, his an­nounce­ment of the in­quiry into Sars could po­ten­tially help him keep his job.

Moy­ane is close to Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, who did not re­move him when Gi­gaba’s pre­de­ces­sor, Pravin Gord­han, asked him to do so.

“[Gi­gaba] is try­ing to please the other fac­tion. He knows that he does not have any pow­ers to re­move Moy­ane. Him mak­ing pro­nounce­ments on gov­er­nance is­sues at Sars is prob­lem­atic,” said an­other source close to Moy­ane.

On Tues­day, Gi­gaba an­nounced the in­quiry and said it was expected to be es­tab­lished soon. Its ob­jec­tive is to de­ter­mine the rea­sons for an un­der­col­lec­tion of tax and to im­prove per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tems at Sars.

He said Zuma had granted his re­quest.

“It is crit­i­cal for gov­ern­ment to de­ter­mine the cause of the tax rev­enue un­der­col­lec­tion in or­der to en­able gov­ern­ment to take ur­gent re­me­dial steps to en­sure that Sars is able to meet its rev­enue tar­gets,” Gi­gaba said.

A Moy­ane con­fi­dant at Sars said he was “un­per­turbed” by the in­quiry.

“The terms of ref­er­ence are yet to be dis­cussed, but no changes to the lead­er­ship have been an­nounced for the du­ra­tion of the in­quiry,” the source said.

Gi­gaba’s spokesper­son, May­ihlome Tsh­wete, said re­la­tions be­tween the min­is­ter and Moy­ane were good. He de­nied there was any rift be­tween them.

A source close to the fi­nance min­istry down­played any ill feel­ing, say­ing: “The min­is­ter is just do­ing what has to be done. There is low tax moral­ity and sev­eral is­sues at Sars that can­not be dealt with by the Davis Tax Com­mit­tee.” Headed by Judge Dennis Davis, it is as­sess­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of the coun­try’s tax pol­icy frame­work.

“Moy­ane and Davis are not on good terms and the min­is­ter is try­ing to get them to work to­gether. So an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry is needed to deal with is­sues af­fect­ing lead­er­ship and all the prob­lems af­fect­ing Sars,” the source said. Dur­ing his medium-term bud­get pol­icy state­ment in Oc­to­ber, Gi­gaba an­nounced a pro­jected un­der­col­lec­tion in tax of R209 bil­lion over the next three years, and a gap of R50.8 bil­lion in rev­enue col­lec­tion in the 2017/18 fi­nan­cial year.

A for­mer Sars em­ployee who left the or­gan­i­sa­tion af­ter Moy­ane’s ap­point­ment, said more than 55 ex­ec­u­tives had left since he took over.

“Sars has lost peo­ple with skills and in­sti­tu­tional knowl­edge and the short­fall, to me, is a re­sult of that,” the source said.

Gi­gaba said on Tues­day that Moy­ane was told about the in­quiry and “ex­pressed his sup­port for it and will­ing­ness to co­op­er­ate”.

Malusi Gi­gaba and Tom Moy­ane

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