S. Africa appoints chief tax collector amid huge revenue shortfalls

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-28 14:16:23|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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CAPE TOWN, March 27 (Xinhua) -- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday appointed Edward Kieswetter to lead the troubled South African Revenue Service (SARS).

The appointment takes effect on May 1 this year, the Ministry of Finance said. Kieswetter will serve as SARS commissioner for a five-year term.

"We have every confidence that Mr Kieswetter has the experience, integrity and skills required to turn SARS around by restoring revenue collection, redirecting operations toward innovation, developing future leaders for the organization, and restoring SARS's credibility and integrity," Ramaphosa said.

The appointment is expected to stabilize SARS at a time when efficient revenue collection and tax justice are vital to the country's economic recovery.

SARS has been blamed for revenue shortfalls in the past two years, including allegations of unauthorized payment of bonuses to top executives and withholding of refunds owed to ordinary tax payers.

Ramaphosa dismissed Tom Moyane as SARS commissioner in November last year. Since then, South Africa has been without a chief tax collector.

Moyane was responsible for significant tax undercollection during his tenure. Tax revenue was projected to fall short of the 2017 budget estimate by 50.8 billion rand (about 3.6 billion U.S. dollars) for that fiscal year. This was the largest undercollection since the 2009 recess.

Ramaphosa appointed a commission led by retired Judge Robert Nugent in May 2018 to look into governance of the revenue service and tax administration.

Among the six candidates shortlisted by the commission to head SARS, Kieswetter emerged as the strongest one, based on his past experience as SARS deputy commissioner between 2004 and 2009, and his subsequent track record of transformative leadership and his experience of turning around a large institution, the Ministry of Finance said.