OUTA launches parliamentary office, welcomes former ANC MP | Fin24
 
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OUTA launches parliamentary office, welcomes former ANC MP

Jun 06 2018 20:10
Khulekani Magubane

Cape Town – The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) said on Wednesday evening it hoped to build strong ties with the office of the Auditor General and National Treasury through its new parliamentary office.

The organisation – known for its opposition to the SA National Roads Agency’s electronic tolling system in Gauteng – also welcomed former African National Congress MP Makhosi Khoza as its executive director and head of the its local government strategy.

This opening of the office comes as Auditor General Kimi Makwetu deals with multiple headaches including the impact of scandals at KPMG and Nkonki Inc. on the state's audit work. In April Makwetu announced his office’s decision to terminate auditing contracts with the two firms.

Makwetu announced in May that the audit outcomes of municipalities had generally worsened.

The SA Revenue Service, meanwhile, has lamented poor tax morality in light of lower-than-expected collections in the 2016-17 financial year.

The OUTA parliamentary office will liaise with Parliament, various portfolio committees and the departments which account to them with a view of promoting transparency and accountability. It will seek to lift the lid on what is says is maladministration and corruption in a number of portfolios.

“National Treasury is an important partner," said Khoza on Wednesday. "They are stretched but if we approach them with concrete changes to governance I think it can make a difference. We are mindful of current policies but we want to best assist them to do their jobs.”

She urged her former colleagues in the ANC caucus and Parliament not to allow politics to sidetrack the objectives of Parliament. 

“The reality is Parliament is supposed to be a political institution, but it is largely political by virtue of the fact that politicians are running it. Before any matter is tabled, it must go before political caucus and right there, administration will be lobbied and may be coerced into writing reports that are not envisaged by the committee, perhaps, cause they may be captured,” said Khoza.

Regarding the importance of local government, Khoza said it was at the coalface of service delivery. She said local government was impactful, but that this impact was often negative as a result of corruption and mismanagement.

“You cannot escape local government. When you have the AG reporting that fruitless and wasteful is R28bn you begin to wonder how much we are dealing with here, given that only a sample of the information is audited,” said Khoza.

OUTA's Wayne Duvenage said it was no coincidence that SARS was dogged by low tax morality, as the general public had no confidence that their tax money was being well managed. He said South Africa was closer to a tax revolt than authorities believed. 

“Towards the end of 2017, we had increasing calls demanding we declare a tax revolt. We have held off because we know that nobody wants to live in a state facing a protracted tax revolt. But a silent tax revolt is taking place now.

“The notion of being proud to pay your taxes is gone. That has a negative impact on SARS. We are trying to improve the state of play so that people are confident enough in the system to pay their tax[es] and pay them on time,” said Duvenage.

OUTA chief operating officer Ben Theron said that given proposed changes to ministerial departments, OUTA was also keen to contribute with research and analysis to ensure that President Cyril Ramaphosa emerged with a leaner and more efficient Cabinet.

“We have proven that we hold people to account in recent months, and we find those with the power to make [those in] power answer. How we interact with Parliament is we write to the ethics committee, to the office of the president and to portfolio committees,” he said.

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