Budget: SARS strengthening IT systems

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Finance minister Tito Mboweni delivers his budget speech before the National Assembly.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni delivers his budget speech before the National Assembly.

Budget 2019: The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is strengthening its IT team and IT systems, and this is crucial for the country's tax collection efforts.

So said finance minister Tito Mboweni, during the tabling of the 2019 National Budget Speech in Parliament this afternoon.

Mboweni's statement follows his promise last year that the administration will work tirelessly to re-build trust at the revenue service.

Last year, the state of SARS's IT infrastructure was thrust into the spotlight during the Nugent commission of inquiry, amid concerns the tax collector's aging systems would not be able to withstand capacity and functionality in future.

The commission, which was investigating tax administration and governance at the revenue service, probed whether tenders were correctly awarded, criminal investigations covered up, and former employees coerced to leave under the leadership of former commissioner Tom Moyane.

SARS's IT boss Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane also made headlines when she was unable to explain the current state of the IT infrastructure, or provide a clear assessment of the way forward.

In his speech, Mboweni confirmed SARS is being fixed, and thanked judge Robert Nugent, who chaired the commission, and his panel for their "wise counsel".

A new commissioner will be appointed in the coming weeks, Mboweni added.

The full budget review document states: "SARS has taken steps to strengthen the management of its information technology systems, rebuild its technical prowess, and harness opportunities arising from information-sharing agreements between national tax authorities.

"Through internal processes, SARS is implementing recommendations concerning inappropriate actions, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, unfair labour practices and maladministration.

"SARS is reviewing contracts that breached public procurement regulations and will act to recover funds spent."

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