Bor­der bill back in spotlight

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

A bill that col­lapsed in Par­lia­ment be­cause of a lack of a quo­rum is back on the agenda for adop­tion by the Na­tional As­sem­bly to­mor­row.

ANC MPs failed to show up in the House last month when op­po­si­tion par­ties boy­cotted the vot­ing on the Bor­der Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity Bill.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties have ob­jected to the bill, ar­gu­ing it will strip the South African Rev­enue Ser­vice (Sars) of its pow­ers to col­lect taxes at cus­toms.

Sars is said to col­lect 30 per­cent of its to­tal R1.3 tril­lion tax from cus­toms.

Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Hlengiwe Mkhize de­nied in Par­lia­ment, dur­ing the de­bate on the bill be­fore its col­lapse, that her de­part­ment would take over the pow­ers of rev­enue col­lec­tion.

This was also de­nied by other gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials who said Sars would keep its rev­enue col­lec­tion func­tion, but op­po­si­tion par­ties were un­con­vinced.

They said it would be a dis­as­ter if Sars were to lose its pow­ers to col­lect rev­enue at cus­toms, amount­ing to R300 bil­lion.

The bill cre­ates a sin­gle en­tity that op­er­ates the coun­try’s bor­ders. When Par­lia­ment was ex­pected to adopt the bill last month, op­po­si­tion par­ties staged a walk­out, and the ANC, which is the ma­jor­ity party, could not get the needed 201 votes to ap­prove the bill.

The leg­is­la­tion has been a source of dis­agree­ment in Par­lia­ment. The Trea­sury also raised con­cerns on the pow­ers of Sars when the bill was tabled in 2015.

They said Sars had skilled per­son­nel who could be lost if their pow­ers to col­lect tax was taken over by an­other en­tity.

Dur­ing the de­bate, Mkhize said they had ad­dressed all the con­cerns raised by var­i­ous par­ties, and the new agency would not take over the func­tions of an­other en­tity.

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