SARS inquiry already finds 'disconcerting things' about staff morale

Retired Supreme Court of Appeals Judge Robert Nugent will be heading the SARS inquiry.
Retired Supreme Court of Appeals Judge Robert Nugent will be heading the SARS inquiry.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali / Sunday Times

The inquiry into governance at the SA Revenue Service is urgent‚ with the commission already identifying some "disconcerting things" about morale among employees at the tax agency.

This is according to retired supreme court Judge Robert Nugent tasked with chairing the inquiry appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Nugent addressed the media at the SARS headquarters ahead of the commencement of the inquiry on Tuesday. He confirmed that the bulk of the sessions this week would look into the exodus of senior or experienced staff at Sars in recent years.

He said he had already identified some disconcerting things about staff morale which needed addressing. Nugent said he regarded the inquiry as urgent‚ and that the president regarded it as such as well.

The R50-billion hole in revenue collection was critical to address for the country and the economy. Nugent said some blamed the shortfall on the economy but others attributed it to governance issues at Sars. "If it emerges that governance is the cause‚ it is urgent to address this and rectify this‚" he said.

Nugent said taxpayer information may be disclosed to the commission‚ but he assured taxpayers that their information would remain confidential.

The inquiry would be held through a combination of public hearings and the provision of affidavits as well as documents. Nugent added that he may also provide provisional reports to the president if urgent matters which had to be addressed immediately emerged during the inquiry.

Former Sars commissioner Pravin Gordhan would be the first to make a submission on Tuesday afternoon. The gist of his submission‚ said Nugent‚ would be on how Sars was previously run.

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