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Big bonuses despite revenue stuff-up at SARS

 

According to the Business Day despite revenue shortfalls that led to a rise in VAT, tax officials still received a 41% increase in bonuses.

According to the Mail and Guardian, deputy director general at national treasury Ismail Momoniat told the Nugent commission that SARS hoped to raise an extra R25 billion from the VAT hike.

That would cover about half the R50 billion revenue shortfall that the taxman had suffered.

Momoniat said that responsibility for the bonuses rested with SARS head Tom Moyane, stating that even the Auditor General found them irregular.

Last year Tom Moyane penned a piece for the Independent claiming that claimed the shortfall was due to the sluggish economy.

Moyane cited low business growth as reducing revenues from corporate income taxes, as well as high unemployment and low wage growth reducing revenue from personal income taxes.

However Chris Axelson,  a director at treasury for personal income and taxes, explained to the commission that this did not explain the drop in revenue.

Axelson pointed out that the wage bill for 2017/18 had very small changes to it, but there was still a large revenue shortfall there.

In other growth wasn’t great, but it was still there and revenue shrank. Axelson said it is unknown as to why.

Previous testimony to the commission slammed Moyane’s decisions regarding restructuring the taxman, stating that the restructuring was unnecessary and undid a lot of the good work previous commissioners had done to modernise the institution.

Moyane also has a record of less than stellar performance in government, as his term in charge of South Africa’s prisons ended with his forced retirement.

My Take

Moyane is also facing charges of having assaulted his grandson’s 17 year old girlfriend according to the Sunday World.

Apparently he accused her of bringing down his empire using witchcraft.

Moyane, when KPMG claimed its report into SARS’ “rogue unit” was flawed, and largely cobbled together from other reports, maintained that it wasn’t.

He also argued that KPMG couldn’t withdraw the report because it was now SARS’ intellectual property.

And of course earlier this year, audio leaked of Moyane instructing a SARS official not to cooperate with the KPMG probe.

What gets me with Moyane is not that he was corrupt, so far I’m not seeing that as the root of his failure in the taxman.

Corruption might have shielded the Gupta’s a bit but not to the extent of creating a R50 billion shortfall.

The root of his failure, is that the man is an idiot.

There is a core lesson from Moyane’s reign of error, and that is that what we need to look at in any government position is competence.

Recently I read this exchange in response to Zwelinzima Vavi:

Jacob Zuma was not a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

When Vavi and Julius Malema backed Zuma he was standing trial for rape. We also knew about the corruption charges relating to the arms deal. He had been sacked by Thabo Mbeki over those allegations. He still doesn’t have a secondary education, never mind tertiary academic credentials.

The media were very clear on it being a bad idea to elect him, yet he was elected. What happened next was predictable, and if we’re honest, the predicted result. It wasn’t a matter of nobody could see this coming.

He was a wolf in wolf’s clothing with blood still on his mouth from biting quite a few sheep, but anybody who said so was accused of being “white owned media.”

That meme still survives to this day because it is such an easy out from having to think.

And that goes for a lot of our decisions as a country. We hire people we know aren’t capable or honest and then act surprised when we get incapable and corrupt leadership.

Bheki Cele, he was sacked as police commissioner because of dodgy tenders. His hand was found in the cookie jar – now he is minister of police. What result do you think that’s going to have?

The reason why employers want references is because you can more or less tell what someone’s going to be like by seeing what they were like before.

And with the likes of Moyane, it is pointless to simply look at him as individual in this case. The damage he has done has been done, it is more important to look at how he got into a position where he could do that damage.

The core problem of competence and history has to be addressed. We’re struggling right now when we should be thriving, because there are a lot of warning signs which we just ignore.

What is the point of a free press if all that happens is every warning it issues is dismissed?

And this isn’t uniquely South African. When I criticised Trump’s policy on immigrant families, I was accused of fake news for quoting Time Magazine. To put this into context, Donald Trump for years had his face printed on a fake Time Magazine cover at his golf resorts.

They criticise him and that’s “fake news”. We can see what is going to happen in America, because we’ve seen it here, and we keep seeing it here.

It is important to pay attention to the warning signs. We as a public have a duty to do that, so that when our politicians don’t we can at least not be hypocrites for slamming them on that.

The whole point to Democracy is not to vote for the party that you have a tribal allegiance to, it is to see how the parties perform and if they fail vote them out. We do not expect to achieve perfection, we expect to achieve better over time as the incompetent and corrupt get eliminated.

But if we’re just ignore the data, blithely dismiss the red flags and plow on ahead with failures, what can we expect?

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