Sars inquiry: Tom Moyane ‘paralysed’ decision-making
Staff ‘at their wits’ end’ as commissioner's new operations model hit unit dealing with multinationals
Operations dealing with large multinational businesses at the SA Revenue Service have been compromised.
The revenue collector’s Large Business Centre (LBC) was just one of the units that were crippled after now-suspended commissioner Tom Moyane rolled out his new operations model in 2015.
This is according to a number of current and former Sars staff and representatives of professional institutions who testified before Judge Robert Nugent’s commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance issues on Thursday.
The LBC deals with the tax affairs of high-profile multinational consortiums who are based in, and have operations, in SA.
According to Nishana Gosai, who resigned as manager of the transfer pricing unit within the LBC in 2016, Moyane’s new model resulted in a “paralysis in decision-making” at the unit.
“It (the unit) ensured quality because you always had one very skilled person leading the audit. It ensured skills transfer ... The impact of living out the transition phase of the new operations model was that we experienced almost a paralysis in decision-making. I was at my wits’ end,” she told the commission.Gosai said her unit was never consulted when Moyane introduced the new model.
Ettiene Retief of the SA Institute of Professional Accountants, which represents about 10,000 accountants, said his organisation’s members who deal with Sars frequently on behalf of clients were also affected by the structure.
“When the LBC was formed, the structure was that you had a contact point, a key person who you engaged with. When the LBC was disbanded that contact person became just a person who would just refer you on to someone else. It became very inefficient, very ineffective in addressing the issues that you would have,” he said.
“The nature of these multinationals is a lot more complex so when you are dealing with a complex matter and the person on the other side is not well versed in that legislation or application ... it’s problematic. It was very evident from multiple engagements that the skill level just isn’t there.”It was not only the LBC that was affected.
According to Fareed Khan, an executive for enforcement audits, the compliance division was largely shrunk in the new operating model. He described how staff he managed regularly lodged complaints with the (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) over exhaustive working hours.
“We have tried our best to maintain the operations but what the numbers are not talking to are the things we didn’t do ... I don’t believe this is an operating model; I believe this is a structure and an organogram. We saw this new model as a simple reshuffling of chairs, with some chairs taken away and some chairs added. There was no vision that we were made aware of,” he said.
“There was a decrease in the yield and the number of cases they dealt with ... an indication of how the new operating model disempowered them.”