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Moyane sounds warning on state overspending

Tuesday, 30 September 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Evan Pickworth
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Author: Evan Pickworth (BDlive)

New South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Thomas Moyane fired a warning shot against government overspending on Thursday, cautioning departments to work within their means as any "extras" would not simply be dished out.

President Jacob Zuma’s appointment of Mr Moyane took many by surprise on Tuesday, as he is a development economist by training rather than a tax expert.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene faced a barrage of questions on Thursday on Mr Moyane’s suitability for the job, but he emphasised that it was not only tax experience that counted in the role.

The appointment comes at a difficult time for SARS. Former commissioner Oupa Magashula resigned in the aftermath of a scandal in July last year following a probe into allegations of impropriety.

"We have confidence in this selection. The president did apply his mind," Mr Nene said. Other countries regularly appointed experts from other fields to head their tax offices, he said, so it was nothing out of the ordinary. He also noted Mr Moyane’s extensive public-and private-sector experience.

Mr Moyane was quick to end any controversy relating to his sudden "retirement", which came ahead of the completion of his full term as Department of Correctional Services national commissioner.

It was reported a year ago that he would seek legal advice following what he saw as a surprise forced retirement.

"There has never been an intention to take the government or any minister for litigation on the retirement that was given. There is nothing to attach to that. It was never there," Mr Moyane said on Thursday.

While SARS was still reeling from Mr Magashula’s departure, another scandal erupted last month after reports surfaced about an alleged affair between one of its enforcement bosses and a lawyer in the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry is being investigated by SARS.

Mr Moyane said he was still to be given all the facts relating to "any issues that affect the organisation or its reputation, if any".

He said that, if necessary, he would approach the finance minister about how to address any problems.

"What is important is we need to maintain stability and a sense of assurance to all South Africans," he said.

His plans include bringing state expenditure under control. "There should be no extras and if there are, there should be mitigating reasons as to why the government department needs additional cash.

"If we don’t put some form of measures in place, then we are going to have a free-for-all situation," he said.

As the state had a fixed amount of money, additional revenue should be used to meet service delivery requirements, he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Nene said the process to appoint a successor to Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus in November was already under way.

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