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FINANCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
03 September 2002
SOUTH AFRICAN REVENUE SERVICE AMENDMENT BILL: FINALISATION
Chairperson: Ms Hogan (ANC)
South African Revenue Service Amendment Bill [B36 - 2002]
The Committee passed the Bill as tabled.
Mr Pravin Gordhan, Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service, and Mr Louw, Head of Legal Services, were present.
The Chair advised that there had not been any responses from the public and asked if there were any outstanding matters.
Ms Taljaard (DP) commented that after thinking about Clause 13 for a while, she could find no reason why section 25(2)(a)(ii) should be in the Bill. The clause had been discussed at the briefing meeting and deals with the Minister's determination of an alternative manner in which to determine the amount to be appropriated for the SARS budget.
The Commissioner replied that currently the formula is premised on the understanding that political decisions are made from time to time. The approach in 25(2)(a)(ii) falls outside the current method of determining the amount to be appropriated and provides certainty for a particular period. He added that over the next couple of years SARS will undergo major transformation. One area in particular would be in technology. For this reason, if the Minister wanted to provide certainty about the funds that SARS requires, 25(2)(a)(ii) allows the Minister to provide that certainty. This approach which is outside the normal method in 25(2)(a)(i) does not compromise any appropriation because the amount was still approved by Parliament.
Ms Hogan took the point that the clause in question might be superfluous but felt that it underlies the transparency of the approach that could be adopted.
Ms Taljaard referred to Clause 8 that amends Part 3 of the Principal Act. Section 12 deals with the composition of the Specialist Committees. She said that surely it is not envisaged that officials from National Treasury would be members of the Specialist Committee but thought the clause was open ended to allow for their representation on the Specialist Committees.
Ms Hogan commented that it would be useful to have Treasury officials on the Specialist Committees.
The Commissioner referred to section 12(2)(a) that provides that the Specialist Committee is independent of SARS. He said that this did not include or exclude the possibility of National Treasury having representatives on the committee. He argued that there might be a need for Treasury officials to serve on the Specialist Committees. One example would be a possible public private partnership which was being investigated. There would be no problem if Treasury officials were on the Specialist Committee and could add value to it because of the specialist unit at Treasury on public private partnerships. The bottom line was that the presence of Treasury on the Specialist Committee would be fine as long as it did not compromise the validity of the views and the advice that is given.
Ms Taljaard commented that a representative of the executive on the Specialist Committee would blur the lines of accountability especially when SARS decides to follow the advice.
The Commissioner replied that in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, the executive authority is not National Treasury. The Minister would simply appoint a Treasury official whom he feels has expertise in the area that the Specialist Committee will focus on.
Ms Taljaard added that because the Minister appoints the Specialist Committee and could appoint a Treasury official, accountability would be blurred.
Ms Hogan found it difficult to see the point Ms Taljaard was trying to make.
Ms Taljaard could see the difficulty but did not want to continue with the argument in committee.
There were no further comments.
Ms Hogan said that there had been no proposed amendments from the previous discussion and went through all the clauses as tabled.
At Clause 13 Ms Taljaard moved that subsection (2)(a)(ii) be deleted.
The proposal was put to the Committee but no other member was in favour of this.
Members had nothing to add in respect of all the other clauses.
Ms Hogan read the motion of desirability which was agreed to. She reported that the Committee has considered the subject of the Bill and agrees thereto. The objection of Ms Taljaard was noted.
There was no further business and the meeting was adjourned.
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