Ramaphosa embraces Judge Nugent’s advocacy for the new Sars head

JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government will embrace the recommendations made by retired Judge Robert Nugent, ushering in a new process in the appointment of the SA Revenue Services (Sars) head.

Speaking during his State of the Nation address yesterday, he said the government was serious about implementing the resolutions, just hours after the National Treasury announced it had appointed a high-level team led by erstwhile finance minister Trevor Manuel to lead the process in appointing the post-Tom Moyane Sars commissioner.

Last year, Ramaphosa moved swiftly to dismiss Moyane after Judge Nugent found that his four-year tenure had led to the near-collapse of the institution.

The judge recommended that various amendments be made to the Sars Act to give additional powers to the Minister of Finance to appoint a deputy commissioner and, for a specified period, an inspector general to oversee the revenues services.

The Treasury said: "The process for the appointment of a Sars commissioner takes into account the recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance by Sars.”

It said the panel had hit the ground running and was expected to complete its process in the “next few weeks”.

The appointment of the 7-member panel marks the first key adoption of a plethora of recommendations emanating from the Nugent Commission.

SA Institute of Race Relations chief economist Ian Cruickshanks said the new process to appoint a commissioner of Sars was a good development.

“What is important is that the government is moving to appoint a new Sars commissioner. The process announced by the National Treasury is reasonable and democratic. It means the appointment of the new Sars commissioner will not be a one-man show, which usually ends up in cadre deployment,” Cruickshanks said.

Acting Sars commissioner Mark Kingon, who has been holding the fort since the suspension and dismissal of Moyane, has expressed an interest in having the job on a full-time basis.

Tertius Troost, tax manager at Mazars, said Kingon was a strong candidate for the job. "The problem we’ve had is that we have an acting commissioner in the form of Kingon. It’s difficult for him to make positive policy statements because there is always uncertainty on whether he’ll stay.”


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