'Murmurs of a tax revolt': Outa on state's R62bn irregular expenditure

Wayne Duvenage says the government treats its citizens and taxpayers with contempt - the very reason there are growing calls for a tax revolt and why people are taking money offshore and evading taxes.
Wayne Duvenage says the government treats its citizens and taxpayers with contempt - the very reason there are growing calls for a tax revolt and why people are taking money offshore and evading taxes.
Image: Sunday Times

With auditor general Kimi Makwetu bemoaning the results of the report on the national and provincial government audit outcomes for 2018/2019, Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has called for Makwetu to exercise his newly amended powers to investigate implicated bodies.

Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) says the mismanagement highlighted by the national and provincial government audit outcomes for 2018/2019 is “disgraceful”.

Auditor-general Kimi Makwetu said on Wednesday that irregular expenditure by national and provincial departments had climbed 23% to R62.6bn

The figure for the previous financial year was R51bn.

“The lack of stern, stringent corrective action by government leadership to address this diabolical situation is indicative of a government that is comfortable with the decline,” said Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage, who called the mismanagement outlined in the reports “disgraceful”. 

“We cannot stand by and watch the growing demise of the financial affairs of numerous government departments, under the very leadership we have entrusted with the management of the country,” he said.

“What makes matters worse is that this disgraceful situation worsens every year, with virtually no accountability for those responsible for this mess.”

Amendments to the Public Audit Act (PAA) in May mean that Makwetu's office has broader jurisdiction to refer potential culprits of mismanagement to relevant bodies, such as the public protector, Special Investigations Unit, or the police. 

“We would like to see the AG proceed with instructions to public bodies to investigate and drive the implementation of recommendations to rectify the situation quickly,” said Duvenage. 

“In addition, the AG should exercise its powers to issue certificates of debt, to recover lost money from the accounting officers and authorities responsible for these transgressions.

“We also call on President Ramaphosa to exercise leadership and provide society with confidence that this dire situation of mismanagement will no longer be tolerated, by clearly communicating what urgent and meaningful action will be forthcoming,” he said.

Duvenage said growing murmurs of tax revolt were starting to ring out. He said the only way to avoid becoming a “failed state” was to ensure that punishment was levelled against those guilty of wasteful spending. 

“This clearly shows that government treats its citizens and taxpayers with contempt. This is the very reason why there are growing calls from the public for a tax revolt and why people are taking as much money offshore, evading taxes, wherever possible,” he said. 

“Unless those responsible for this mess are held accountable and feel the pain of their transgressions, we will see no improvement in the management of our country’s service delivery to the people, or its financial affairs,” he said. 

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