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SARS eFiling may collapse – R1 billion needed to fix it

Times Select reports that SARS eFiling may be on the verge of collapse within the next two years, because of Tom Moyane’s decisions in 2014.

This is according to Andre Rabie, the taxman’s executive for Information Technology strategy and architecture.

According to the Mail and Guardian, a global investment firm called Gartner had received R200 million in a phased tender to review and develop a new IT strategy for SARS in 2015.

The digitisation process at SARS traces back to 2007, and was aimed at automating SARS revenue collection, improving efficiency and curbing corruption. Management put a stop to that process in 2014 without consulting its IT team according to Rabie.

They were just told via an internal memo. They were also not sufficiently consulted by Gartner during the IT review process.

Consequently that R200 million contract, has caused such problems that Rabie thinks it will cost us about R1 billion to fix them.

The whole problem being that Bain and Gartner’s interventions essentially disrupted the way people worked together at SARS, meaning systems which had evolved to work didn’t anymore.

My Take

I’ve covered Tom Moyane a fair bit. He should never have gotten the job in the first place, his performance at our prisons was scandal tainted, and he comes off as an idiot.

But there is something else that I think we need to look at here.

In 2012 the Rolling Stone was reporting on Mitt Romney’s wealth because he was running for president, here is how they characterised it in their blurb:

“How the GOP presidential candidate and his private equity firm staged an epic wealth grab, destroyed jobs – and stuck others with the bill.”

That private equity firm was Bain Capital.

If you look at the IT development program at SARS – from 2007 to 2014 it was largely successful. It took processing taxes from 180 days, to 3 seconds. One of the major success stories the ANC could boast about in this period was how well SARS functioned.

2014, Moyane comes along and we bring in international consultants and it all begins to collapse.

There is a tendency in South Africa to pull in international advisers on how to run our companies. We will bring in consultants from America or wherever and expect them to do better than we would.

A lot of these consultants are lovely people, but we have our own lovely people who might just do a better job of it.

If our tax collector collapses, Gartner or Bain or whoever you decide to point to next don’t live here, and they’re not South Africans, they don’t get our workplace culture the same way we do. Why do we assume that just because they’re big businesses from overseas, that they’re better suited to doing this than we are?

Even in terms of black economic empowerment, there was an opening here to bring in local black IT and accounting firms if there was a need to change SARS.

Instead we bring in – foreign consultants for something so central to the running of our country that it effectively defines what we can and cannot do.

Part of what we need to do as a country is recognise that we aren’t worse as a people than anybody else. Sure we don’t have enough skilled workers – but consider that to some extent that is because our skilled workers are so good that they’re in demand the world over.

The rest of the world wants our doctors, the rest of the world wants our engineers, our accountants are considered amongst the best in the world – why are we so negative about our skills?

Chauvinism is bad, we shouldn’t dismiss solutions simply because they come from other countries, but so is this attitude of inferiority.

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