South Africa’s tax collector, hit by scandals and corruption under former President Jacob Zuma, has vowed to brush up this tainted image for the better under President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new administration.
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) said on Wednesday, 2 October 2019, that it was taking measures to address declining staff morale and restoring public confidence after years of mismanagement.
It said the appointment of Edward Kieswetter as its commissioner five months ago was the first step in its journey to a new beginning.
“Since his (Kieswetter’s) arrival in May 2019, he has been single-mindedly focused on addressing the internal confidence and morale of employees, as well as restoring the trust and confidence that the public has in us,” SARS said in a statement to mark its twenty-second anniversary.
The tax collector has been tainted by corruption allegations during the past few years, a seven-million-dollar value added tax refund granted to the controversial Gupta brothers for business transactions.
The Guptas were business partners of former president Jacob Zuma and are at the centre of a scandal in which they allegedly ran parallel government structures and had a say in the appointment of cabinet ministers.
SARS noted that it was “blessed with thousands of honest men and women who bring their positive contribution to this rebuilding process.”
The anniversary celebrations take place against a backdrop of the current tax season, which has seen an increase in the number of compliant taxpayers, it noted.
SARS collected a gross amount of 104 billion dollars in tax revenue, which was offset by refunds of 17 billion dollars, resulting in net collections of 87 billion dollars, according to the latest available figures for the 2018 tax revenue collections.