Tag Archive | minister of finance

Tax law changes after mid-year budget

Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill….

pravon gordhanAs part of the presentation of the medium term budget policy statement by the finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, on the 24 October, the following are some of the Acts that will be amended by the simultaneous presentation of the new Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill, legislation necessary as part of any budget re-allocation or implementation.


•    Transfer Duty Act of 1949;
•    Income Tax Act of 1962;
•    Value-Added Tax Act of 1991;
•    Skills Development Levies Act of 1999;
•    Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act of 2002;
•    Securities Transfer Tax Act of 2007;
•    Mineral and Petroleum Resources Royalty Act of 2008; and
•    Tax Administration Act of 2011.

Customs and excise changes

The Bill mainly focuses on search and seizure provisions in terms of the Customs and Excise Act; extension of prescription period in the event of delays by taxpayers and for a reduced assessment; a provision re-writing that there will be no penalty for an understatement resulting from bona fide error and, importantly, regulations regarding tax practitioners whereby direct supervision is replaced by acceptance of accountability.

Other issues arose in his medium budget statement to the House and are covered by the new Bill.

The Bill will have the normal restraints that is a Money Bill; an explanatory summary has already been published by SARS and public comment invited by the minister to the department of finance.

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Pravin Gordhan : best budget vote speech

Pravin Gordhan speaks on corruption……

pravin gordhan MTBSDuring his budget vote speech to Parliament, Pravin Gordhan, minister of finance, said,  “In the same way we built in South Africa a new sense of tax compliance and personal discipline, perhaps we should now rid ourselves of the evils of corruption”.

Indeed, the fact that we are now headed towards becoming the major nuclear nation on the continent and with the issue of shale gas exploration on the cards, let alone gas exploration off the Mozambique coast, all of this will undoubtedly lead us into a different league in the years ahead on the African continent. So what we look like to others is especially important.

Until now, like two competing top league football teams, South Africa and Nigeria seem to have vied for top dog position. Then Marikana came along and we seem to have lost all confidence in ourselves and certainly Standard and Poor and all the others have voiced theirGoodluck Jonathan displeasure at the way we do things.

Nigeria has more problems

But then nothing can compare with Nigeria’s problems of declaring a state of emergency in three regions and the containment of insurrection from Boko Haram as radicals try to establish Sharia law in one third of its land mass. Trouble is therefore purely relative to what one is trying to achieve. But somehow President Goodluck Jonathan seems to do better than President Zuma in the PR stakes.

In South Africa’s case, we could be said to be lacking in a pool of skills but Willie de Beer of SANEDI, a quiet but respected leader in the energy field, says that South Africa certainly has the skills to put its energy mix together properly if it seriously puts it mind to it. Minister Dipuo Peters referred this week to bringing in outside strategic help on nuclear issues.

Working together at last

In fact it was refreshing to see Minister Gigaba of public enterprises and Minister Peters on energy both on the podium working from the same hymn sheet.

Then one turns to gas exploration and the potential that many claim that this is.  Gas will be realised sooner perhaps for its possibilities. Also probably it is easier subject to tackle, especially if PetroSA can get rid of its opportunists and some form certainty reigns for investors as far the regulatory environment is concerned – something that hasn’t happened in Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique. A steady environment for gas development has the potential to make South Africa great.

So is it the skills we lack?   Or just the confidence to become a bigger and better nation and consequently the giant on the African continent?

Poor issue management

Probably lot of it is bad PR at the top as well, with Mac Maharaj having to operate the bilge pumps so regularly as heavy waves of unexplained statements and odd decisions from cabinet swamp the decks. The fact that the cabinet sits so long on problems and fails to make decisions probably has a lot to do with the indecisive look that seems to emerge from our top brass – Waterkloof issues and Gupta’s aside, but on serious policy issues, all points to a cabinet that is lacking in cohesion and lacking in depth at this moment.

koebergCertainly a statement from a minister on entry into the nuclear top league and a picture of the president in loinzuma wedding cloths holding a spear in a KwaZulu marriage function on the same front page probably failed to inspire confidence that day. And nobody seems to be taking corruption seriously in the cabinet either. And it is all so easy to blame everything on bad PR, however.  Usually in times such as this the right man for the moment emerges but it is difficult at the moment to image who this is could be.

Clever Trevor

Trevor Manuel used to have the uncanny habit of making the right kind of statement when South Africa needed it. Perhaps his successor Pravin Gordhan hit the right button when during the treasury budget vote speech this week, he said, “SARS managed to bring to the country a new sense of tax compliance and personal discipline and perhaps a new national campaign is needed to rid ourselves in the same way of the evils of corruption and bring a sense of discipline.”

We have been lucky with our ministers of finance in South Africa and perhaps we should take the lead of Pravin Gordhan when he says that we really can do these things if we put our heads down, put only properly qualified people into jobs and do what we have said we will do, on time and every time.


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Sovereign rating time after budget and SONA

SONA and Budget 2013/4 beat the pundits…   

zuma2With budget behind us, the script for the state of nation address (SONA) becomes a little clearer.

At the time SONA wasn’t what was expected and represented to many a total let down insofar as direction, information and inspiration was concerned.   President Zuma’s speech was really quite remarkable for the subjects it didn’t touch upon or skirted around.   Perhaps that’s what happens when a majority party is half way through its current tenure of office.

In all fairness, however, there is so much that is about to happen in South Africa on infrastructure development and so much “in the pipeline”, that there was little the current government could do other than recycle the list of eighteen major projects that the twenty seven government departments and sixteen utilities having been talking about for months, sometimes years, all of which seem in a pretty embryonic stage. The hope is that when it all comes together, it won’t be too late.

NERSA played a trump card

On energy, little was said – in fact practically nothing at all that was not patently obvious such as the fact that Medupi and Kusile are being built. In fact nothing was said on electricity at all, the reason for which was to become evident in the NERSA decision the following week when Eskom’s multi year price determination call of 16% was toned down to 8%.

Dangerous budget

pravon gordhanAlso the following week and following SONA came Pravin Gordhan’s budget with its surprising nil increase on income tax, severe budget cuts, the introduction of carbon tax and an increased fuel levy. Once again the National Development Plan was heavily emphasised and perhaps at last government is going to get on with it with a new presidential infrastructure co-ordination commission to support the initiative.

The Budget was in some ways masterful but still frightens the credit rating agencies, with Gordhan trying to balance the books after an increased deficit over the previous year, something the new government used to pride itself on not needing under finance minister Trevor Manuel – but times change and the global recession arrived.

Executive powers

Interesting for Parliament is the introduction of the draft Infrastructure Development Bill giving extraordinarily wide powers to an all-powerful commission to be known as the presidential infrastructure co-ordination commission, as stated above, with all nine premiers, the President and Deputy President steering the ship in an effort to cut red tape and speed things up.

This can only be good, if only for the fact that the captain of the ship can speak alone to the twenty seven departments and sixteen utilities described above.

Public Service too big

Which leads to the issue of a somewhat bloated public service which has had the benefit of above-inflation increases this year, so it was pleasing to see that a skills audit of public servants is about to be commenced amongst the 1.2m public servants, which in a country of only 51m, is totally disproportionate.

Public Service and administration minister Lindiwe Sisulu told Parliament that the increase of 1% per year in salaries has to be turned into a decrease of 1% next year.

Encouragingly also, planning minister Trevor Manuel (who has but ten staff) has clearly indicated that he is relying on the parliamentary oversight system to beef up his programme to wake up to the National Development Plan.  How well Parliament scrutinizes the national budget in the coming weeks in every parliamentary portfolio committee demanding both value for money and delivery on time, every time, is now the critical issue.

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Parliament debates three financial market and tax Bills

A series of three pieces of financial legislation have been tabled in Parliament by the minister of finance, Pravin Gordhan, namely the Financial Markets Bill, the Credit Rating Services Bill and the Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill.

The standing committee on finance originally called for written comments by the end of May on the Financial Markets Bill, numbered B12, heard on 30 May 2012, the purpose of the Bill being stated to:

• Provide for the regulation of financial markets; • Regulate exchanges, central securities, clearing houses and trade repositories • Regulate and control securities trading and the administration of securities • Prohibit insider trading and other market abuses • Provide for the approval of nominees • Provide for codes of conduct • Replace the Securities Services Act, 2004 for the reasons given.

The same committee called for written comments by the same date on the Credit Rating Services Bill, numbered B8, now also heard, the purpose of the Bill being to:  • Provide for the registration of credit rating agencies; • Provide for the regulation of certain activities of credit rating agencies; • Provide conditions for the issuing of credit ratings and rules

The third Bill  tabled before the Standing Committee on Finance is the Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill, numbered B10, public hearings having taken place and deliberations now scheduled.   The purpose of this last Bill is to: • Fix the rates of normal tax; • Amend the Income Tax Act, 1962, amending rates and monetary amounts • Amend the Customs and Excise Act, 1964, so as to amend rates of duty

Deliberations by the finance committee on all three Bills will continue in June.


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