Economy ‘facing disaster’

2016-05-16 12:14
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Bloomberg)

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Bloomberg)

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Growing SA's economy remains key, says Gordhan

2016-02-24 14:54

Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan says growing the economy remains the key to growth in South Africa. Watch him discuss the Wage Bill, VAT and economic growth here.WATCH

Pietermaritzburg - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s arrest would be a disaster that would cause an economic earthquake and make “9/12” look like a minor economic tremor, the Democratic Allliance (DA) said on Sunday.

The Sunday Times reported that Gordhan could soon be arrested after the Hawks reportedly handed a docket over to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for his involvement in the SA Revenue Service’s “rogue unit”.

The top police investigating unit wanted Gordhan and eight others to be prosecuted for espionage for the unit allegedly spying on taxpayers during his time as SARS commissioner.

The NPA yesterday denied that it received a docket from the Hawks for a decision on whether to prosecute Gordhan for his involvement in the so-called “rogue unit”.

“As far as the so-called rogue unit matter is concerned, which is investigated by the Hawks, our prosecutors are actually guiding that investigation,” NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said.

DA Shadow Minister of Finance David Maynier said in a statement that the timing of the rumours could not be worse, and will not only cause further turmoil in the markets, but also compromise efforts to avoid a ratings downgrade in South Africa.

The fact that the Hawks and NPA were reportedly waiting for a “political go-ahead” before going through with the arrest was worrying, said Maynier.

This suggested that the investigation was politically motivated and part of President Jacob Zuma’s fightback campaign and attempt to neuter National Treasury.

The only option, with any hope of avoiding mutually assured destruction, was to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry, in terms of Section 84 of the Constitution, to investigate all the allegations surrounding the so-called SARS “rogue unit”, said Maynier.

In April, Gordhan said SARS had a legal mandate to perform enforcement and criminal investigations.

The finance minister said according to information provided to him by SARS there are 1 599 enforcement auditors who conduct enforcement investigations, and 381 criminal investigators.

Gordhan told the Hawks in March that the unit was an essential part of SARS’ enforcement strategy “as it is with most tax and customs administrations globally”.

The Hawks and Gordhan have been engaged in a very public war of words that saw his office, just days before his budget speech, receive a list of questions from the investigative body over the SARS unit.

Gordhan is also said to be at odds with current SARS commissioner Tom Moyane.

In March, News24 columnist Max du Preez revealed that a “dossier” at SARS headquarters contained “dynamite allegations of corruption, fraud, front companies and foreign bank accounts against prominent benefactors of President Jacob Zuma”. The allegations are the findings of the rogue unit under Gordhan.

The Presidency issued a statement yesterday condemning so-called “information peddlers who spread rumours about alleged changes in the Cabinet”. The Presidency also labelled reports about Gordhan’s imminent arrest as “the work of dangerous information peddlers who wish to cause confusion and mayhem in the country.” — Business Editor.


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