Zuma: SARS must be independent

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Johannesburg - The South African Revenue Service (SARS) must continue to act without fear or favour in ensuring full compliance with the law by all South Africans, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday night.

"We cannot and will not tolerate anyone - from within government or outside of government...to denigrate the hard-won reputation you have built as credible, objective, apolitical and non-partisan institution of state," Zuma told guests at the annual SARS Amakhwezi Awards ceremony in Johannesburg.

SARS uses the Amakhwezi Awards to honour those employees within the organisation who have gone beyond the call of duty to ensure the achievement of the revenue service's mandate. Among those who also attended the glittering event held in Kaylami's Theatre on the Track were Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, his deputy Nhlanhla Nene, SARS Commissioner Oupa Magashula and a host of politicians and senior government officials.

Zuma said the ability to collect revenue from citizens to finance the provision of services was one of the "key defining" features of a capable state, adding that SARS played a huge role in helping the government achieve its goals.

Over the past 10 years SARS had collected a staggering R4.9 trillion to fund South Africa's growth and development.

Zuma said:" It is no flattery exaggeration to single out the South African Revenue Service as one of the most efficient, effective, highly regarded, fair and trusted institutions of state over a prolonged and sustained period".

He told the gathering that one of the features that differentiated South Africa from the rest of the continent was its ability to fund its own destiny. With the global economy still emerging from the financial crisis, there remain many sources of uncertainty and many risks to the world's economic outlook.

"For these reasons, our government will continue to implement a package of policies that improve our resilience to global uncertainty, whatever the source. The ability of a country to borrow from capital markets is linked to its capacity to collect taxes," said Zuma.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Gordhan said institutions like SARS continued to strengthen SA's economy in the face of "gloomy" and vulnerable world markets.

"We are all aware that the world economy is in trouble right now and it is institutions like SARS that help our country stand its ground during these difficult times and SARS is really doing a wonderful job," said Gordhan.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Magashula said the awards have led to increased productivity and efficiency in the organisation since their inception four years ago.

"Today we honour those who have gone beyond our mandate to ensure the public sector delivers on the promise we have made to the people of South Africa," he said.

The finalists who were awarded on Friday had been carefully selected from over 300 nominees received from within SARS.

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