Kieswetter says Sars staff testimonies brought tears to his eyes

Kieswetter says Sars staff testimonies brought tears to his eyes

- New Sars head Edward Kieswetter described a "climate of fear" at Sars

- He made the remarks while addressing MPs

- Kieswetter said he and his team were beginning the difficult process of overhauling the struggling tax insitution

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Sars commisioner Edward Kieswetter told MPs on Thursday that listening to some of his staff's stories brought out tears.

He says they described how a "climate of fear and intimidation" had taken over Sars.

Kieswetter faces the daunting task of reforming the tax-collection institution, which was severely compromised by state capture over the last few years.

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Kieswetter described many of the Sars staff members as "traumatised". He says that steps have been taken to address this and other issues. These include reintegrating roughly 60 surplus staff members to more productive work, and reviewing the 600 disciplinary cases that have been raised since 2014, according to the Daily Maverick.

Much of this alleged maladministration took place during the tenure of former Sars boss Tom Moyane. However, Kieswetter said that merely replacing the commissioner was not a cure-all, has gathered. 

He stressed that much work still needed to be done to turn the tax authority around. For example, Sars's tax-collecting capacity will urgently need to be restored, especially as national government becomes more and more cash-strapped.

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Additionally, and perhaps most crucially, Sars will need to restore its credibility. Tax compliance is likely to remain low unless citizens view Sars as a legitimate and trustworthy institution. 

"Nothing we do can be clandestine," Kieswetter explained.

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