New SARS boss 'will bring much needed stability to SARS'

Edward Kieswetter
Edward Kieswetter

New SARS boss Edward Kieswetter has been welcomed by financial services bodies and others, who say that while he will have his work cut out for him, Kieswetter is the right man "to bring policy certainty to the organisation".

Kieswetter, a former group chief executive at Alexander Forbes, was announced as the new SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner late on Wednesday, effective May 1.

The decision was informed by the recommendation of the president, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement. He replaces acting SARS boss, Mark Kingon who has served in the position since former SARS boss Tom Moyane was suspended last year.

President Cyril Ramaphosa eventually sacked Moyane following an inquiry into the administration of SARS. 

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is expected to officially introduce Kieswetter at a media briefing later today.

'Excellent decision'

Tax manager at Mazars, Tertius Troost hailed the appointment as an "excellent decision by Ramaphosa".

He said the appointment of a permanent SARS boss was a much-needed and crucial step toward restoring confidence in the revenue service.

“Given Kieswetter’s experience, including his past involvement with SARS as deputy commissioner, we also believe that the best possible candidate has been appointed for this responsibility.

“The final six candidates, which included the current acting commissioner, Mark Kingon, were some of the most highly capable and qualified individuals for this position, and we at Mazars agree with the final decision. The fact that Kieswetter has such a strong balance of both private and public sector experience is especially promising, in our opinion.”

Rebuilding SARS

The Banking Association of South Africa also expressed similar sentiments.

"The credibility, integrity and operational efficiency of SARS was seriously eroded during the tenure of former commissioner, Tom Moyane. Under ... Kingon, the work of rebuilding SARS was started," it said in a statement.

BASA also said that Kieswetter had the necessary abilities to restore revenue collection while also driving the necessary organisational change.

It went on to say that a previous accord signed in January, in which BASA undertook to promote the highest standards of tax compliance, among other things, in the banking industry will be "strengthened" under Kieswetter's leadership.

"The financial services sector is an important taxpayer. In 2017 financing, insurance, real estate and business services paid just over R74 billion in company tax - about 30.1% of all company tax. Banks employ approximately 158 000 and contributed ‘pay as you earn’ (PAYE) of R16.5 billion in 2016 and just under R18 billion in 2017, to the fiscus," it said, adding that the announcement of a permanent SARS boss was timeous in terms of Moody's expected credit ratings announcement tomorrow.

'Elevate public confidence'

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) also welcomed the appointment.

“This is a step in the right direction. SARS was once an internationally lauded institution but has lost its shine over the past few years,” said Heinrich Volmink, OUTA’s Executive Head: National Government Division. “We look forward to the revenue service regaining and surpassing its former glory.

“It is imperative that he focuses on long-term solutions that will elevate the country’s economy and public confidence."

Meanwhile the DA also said they were happy with the appointment and wished Kieswetter well on the "mammoth task to repair the broken institution".
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