South African Revenue Services (Sars) Commissioner Tom Moyane has told Eyewitness News he didn’t attend the pre-budget speech press briefing both this year and last year because Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told him he is not allowed there.
On Friday, Moyane briefed the media following an article in the Mail and Guardian which published contents of 16 confidential letters between Moyane and Gordhan which indicate a sore relationship between the two.
In the letters, the Sars chief accuses the minister of mistreating him severely in a meeting that he was made to feel like a child.
The letters further indicate that Gordhan has accused Moyane of contravening the public finance management act and the Sars act by increasing salaries and paying out bonuses without authorisation from the minister.
At the pre-budget speech briefing, Gordhan was flanked by his deputy, Director General and the Reserve Bank Governor but just like last year, there was no sign of Moyane.
He says he was told to stay away.
“Last year, I went, I was invited with the team like I said, to come to the MTVPS. We went. Right when I was at, like we did with Nene, I thought as a Commissioner you’d go to the podium.
“While we were standing outside with Hlengani and the Deputy Minister said ‘Mr. Pravin Gordhan said he doesn’t want to see you there.’”
Moyane says this year he didn’t attend because he was simply honouring the minister’s wishes.
“So what do I do, do I defy him? I’m a cadre that has been trained to take instructions and if somebody says he doesn’t want me there, why do I push? I stayed away.”
He says the Sars team received invitations for the 2017 budget speech on Monday for a budget happening on Wednesday.
ON LEAKED LETTERS
Moyane has asked Gordhan to explain the leakage of confidential letters from his office, reiterating that his relationship with the minister is not ideal.
The Mail & Guardian on Friday published details of 16 confidential letters that expose the true extent of the war between Moyane and Gordhan.
Moyane has conceded that his relationship with the minister has been strained but insists that the leaked letters did not come from Sars.
“The minister should explain or investigate the leakages from his office. The letters in question were privilege and confidential documents and were only shared with Minister of Finance.
“It’s important to consider that the relationship between the Commissioner for Sars and the Minister of Finance is not ideal, it has its own peculiar challenges.”
Moyane briefed the media in Pretoria earlier on Friday, following Gordhan’s 2017 budget speech on Wednesday.
The minister told the National Assembly that Sars will collect R30 billion less than projected last year, calling it the largest under performance since the 2009 recession.
Moyane said it’s regrettable that statement comes from the minister.
“Such utterances by a person as senior as the Minister of Finance poses serious challenges to the overall credibility of the revenue service as an institution.”
Moyane said there are reasons for the decline in revenue collection.
“First, Custom duties were dragged down by R6.5 billion as a result of a contraction in real terms in imports. Second value added tax similarly was dragged down by import VAT collections to an underperformance by R11.3 billion.
“Finally personal income tax, which was long the anchor of revenue collections, underperformed by R15.2 billion.”
(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)