SARS review: a chance to regroup

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his Deputy Minister Nhlanhla Nene, SARS Commissioner Oupa Magashule and Treasury DG Lungisa Fuzile arrive at Parliament for the 2013 Budget speech 27/02/2013, Kopano tlape

Pretoria – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) says the review that is currently underway is intended to make its operations more effective.

“The result of the review is intended to differentiate SARS as a preferred employer, whose focus is empowering its employees and administrating taxes effectively. It will also strengthen compliance and enhance the taxpayer or trader service experience.

“In essence, the purpose of the review will ultimately make SARS more effective relative to its mandate of revenue collection for the State,” said SARS.

The revenue service on Friday clarified media reports pertaining to its Operating Model Review and the leakage of confidential information.

“Regarding the Operating Model Review, it is important to note that SARS engaged in a legitimate process of procurement. This process culminated in the former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene providing approval for the review plans,” said the revenue service.

Gartner Inc. was appointed to assist SARS with the IT and Modernisation Strategy Review. Bain & Company was selected to help with the Operating Model and Structure Review.

Following approval from former Minister Nene, SARS held engagements with several stakeholders, including business and organised labour.

Feedback was also solicited from SARS employees and top management through a survey that was conducted internally. Position papers were submitted by senior management and face-to-face discussions were held.

“In keeping with international best practice, SARS conducted a benchmarking exercise, which entailed the study of the seven revenue services and five revenue authorities across the world. A presentation was made before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance (SCOF) and the ministerial-appointed SARS Advisory Board was engaged on three occasions,” said SARS.

The process of the review commenced on 18 August 2015.

“The review process was designed to leverage off the phenomenal strides, which have been achieved by SARS since its establishment approximately 19 years ago. It will also assist in the identification of growth opportunities, enhance accountability and reposition SARS as a fair, transparent, innovative and leading tax administrator amongst its peers,” said SARS.

It said there is nothing illegal or out of the ordinary about the review and that the process was approved by all relevant stakeholders.

Information leaks

The revenue service said since the appointment of Commissioner Tom Moyane in September 2014, major controls and processes have been instituted to curb information leaks from SARS. The intention is to protect the integrity of the organisation.

“We reject any insinuation that suggests that SARS or the Commissioner has been leaking confidential information. With regards to the leakage of the KPMG report, SARS would like to place on record that all copies of the report submitted were uniquely numbered. None of the copies submitted to SARS were leaked and are in safe custody.”

SARS said it is aware of a copy that was leaked as the media published its numbering.

“That copy was not delivered to any SARS official. The matter of the leakage of that report must be addressed with those who are in possession of that report.”

Concerning the SARS KPMG report, the revenue service said Commissioner Moyane is applying his mind on the matter.

“The Commissioner will release the report to the public in the next few weeks.”

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