Cape Town - The SA Revenue Service on Tuesday lashed out at the media in the latest round in the "sparring match" between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Sars commissioner Tom Moyane.
Moyane is at loggerheads with Gordhan over restructuring plans (under Moyane's lead) at Sars. Furthermore, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday he will not interfere with a Sars commissioned investigation by the Hawks into a so-called "rogue unit" that allegedly operated while Gordhan was commissioner at Sars.
Gordhan on Friday said there is a group of people who are not interested in the economic stability of the country and the welfare of its people, but "in disrupting institutions and destroying reputations".
In a statement issued on Tuesday Sars claims investigations mentioned in the media have inferred that Moyane instituted such measures and that this is far from the truth. Sars claims the investigation was launched by then acting commissioner Ivan Pillay after media coverage about an alleged "rogue unit". This was a few months prior to Moyane being appointed commissioner in September 2014.
According to Sars Moyane received a report in November, making various findings on the illegality of the unit and its operations and calling for a more detailed investigation. This resulted in Moyane appointing KPMG in December 2014 to do a forensic investigation. To date more than 30 interviews have been conducted in the investigation.
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"Since the appointment of Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane, major controls and processes have been instituted to curb information leaks from Sars. The intention is to protect the integrity of the organisation," Sars said in its statement.
"We reject any insinuation that suggests that Sars has been leaking confidential information. The media is encouraged to uphold its code of ethics and standards when it comes to dealing with leaked confidential documents."
Sars added that the notion that Moyane has used the implementation of the current operating model for other motives other than enhancing the revenue agency's effectiveness and efficiency is "rather unfortunate and a deliberate attempt to discredit Sars and its commissioner".
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Sars pointed out that prior to Moyane's appointment, the agency had undergone several operating model changes under various commissioners, including under Gordhan. The agency emphasised that Moyane merely implemented a commitment made by his predecessor to parliament after consultation with former minister of finance Nhlanhla Nene, organised labour, Sars' Advisory Board and various stakeholders.
As for reports about the "collapse" of the Large Business Centre (LBC) as a result of the new operating model, Sars said the new operating model has actually expanded the footprint of the LBC services to the majority of Sars branches and recruiting additional specialised skills.
Another issue with which Sars has a problem is what it calls "reported comments attributed to former minister of finance Trevor Manuel in that “if he was the minister of finance he would spend 20 minutes crafting a letter to fire Tom Moyane”.
Not only is such a statement puzzling to Sars, but the agency feels it undermines the legislation regulating the relationship between Sars and the minister of finance in that the Sars commissioner is appointed by the president as both CEO and an accounting authority.
It is important for Sars to note that in terms of section 9 of the Sars Act, the commissioner's responsibilities include the performance by Sars of its functions, developing efficient administration, organising staff and maintaining discipline.
"Sars management and the 14 500 employees are hard-working and are committed to fulfilling our mandate to collect all revenue due to the state," the agency concluded.
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