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Cape Town - Fin24 users reacting to the call for tips
for Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan have been mostly positive and most praised
the minister for his hard work.
More important is that it seems that SA
citizens are happy to pay tax. There was not a single emotional outburst about
high tax rates or feelings of ill-will towards the revenue service Sars. In fact, most people acknowledged that Sars
is doing a good job and we received quite a few tips on how Sars can actually
catch people who are not paying their dues.
The biggest concern – still expressed with
respect and genuine concern from taxpayers – was the question of corruption and
wasteful expenditure. More than 60% of responses referred to corruption,
unchecked spending by politicians and state officials, unlawful spending and
wasting taxpayers money.
Fin24 user Johan Rothmann posted the
following comment, which captured the ideas and general tone of comments we
“Thanks for this opportunity. I sincerely
hope you do take note of input from ordinary citizens. Your predecessors and
you have been doing an excellent job to increase the annual revenue from all
tax sources. You have also improved the efficiency of the tax collection system
dramatically. Please continue to do so.
“My request to you is on the other side,
the spending side of tax money. I do not think it is correct that you and your
department work to the best of your ability to collect taxes, only to see how
tax money is wasted and abused.
“You and your department have an equal
responsibility to ensure spending is fair and in line with budgets and
“In any business the finance department
will be involved when budgets are established and approved. They will also be
involved to monitor and approve spending against the approved budget. Why
should government be different?
“When politicians and the media debate and
complain about corruptive spending (for example at Nkandla), it is already too
late! The spending is done. The spending should have been checked and approved
against the budget before it is done.
“That should be your department’s role and
responsibility must rest with you. Questions from the media and politicians can
then be directed to the parties who established and approved the budget for
“Please take up this responsibility and
give all South African citizens peace of mind. I wish you all the best!”
A lot of other comments dealt with
politicians’ and senior officials’ luxurious cars, high travel expenses, credit
cards and hotel bills, with one Fin24 user suggesting a clear-cut solution: “Please
put checks and balances in place to curb government corruption and
maladministration. Establish your own financial police and police each and
every department’s spending on a monthly or quarterly basis. Fire the incompetent
financial officers in the departments immediately.”
Luckily the minister has already acted on people’s
concerns and the expectation is that he will announce further steps to counter
wasteful spending when he announces his budget on February 26.
In his State of the Nation Address,
president Jacob Zuma also spoke against corruption (for what it is worth). “South Africans are united in wanting a corruption-free society,” he said.
He maintains that
fighting corruption in the public service is yielding results. Zuma said that since the launch of a national hotline
where people can report corruption, over 13 000 cases of corruption and
maladministration have been referred to government departments for further
handling and investigation.
recovered more than R320m from perpetrators and 1 542 officials were dismissed
from the public service, while 204 officials were prosecuted. Government has also
decided to establish a central tender board to adjudicate tenders in all
spheres of government,” the president said in his speech.
are already fighting corruption. This week the non-profit organisation Corruption
Watch was due to appear in the Constitutional Court again to testify in the
tender dispute between AllPay Consolidated Investments and others versus the South African Social Security Agencu (Sassa)
and related parties.
The case was
brought before the Constitutional Court by losing bidder AllPay, which disputed
the awarding of a R10bn tender by Sassa to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) for
the distribution of social grants.
funded by donations from the public, businesses and international donors,
appeared in September 2013 as a friend of the court, where it argued that
irregularities in the public procurement process may be signs of more extensive
judgments have already found that “deviations from fair process may themselves
all too often be symptoms of corruption or malfeasance in the process. In other
words, an unfair process may betoken a deliberately skewed process”.
Sassa and CPS
were ordered to pay AllPay’s costs, including that of three counsel - in the
High Court, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. The court declined
to set aside the tender immediately, as the 15-million beneficiaries of grants
may be affected, and ordered the parties to return to court last week to
present evidence as to a “just and equitable” solution.
Gordhan has all
the backing he could ask for and the hope is that he will announce tough steps
to counter the wasting of money.