How many minutes do I have? TABLE STAFF MEMBER: Ten minutes!
Alright, don't worry about the clock sir, they will sort it out. Don't panic.
Deputy Speaker, allow me to table the Standing Committee on Finance Report on Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill, Taxation Laws Amendment Bill and Tax Administration Amendment Bill as tabled by the Minister of Finance in the February tabling of the Budget.
These Bills are legal instruments for the SA Revenue Service, Sars, to collect and administer revenue. The SA Revenue Service is charged with the responsibility to collect and administer revenue through the Tax Administration Laws Amendment Act and other applicable tax legislation.
We present these reports against the background of the challenges of the collection of revenue. Revenue collection has not kept pace with economic growth. The economy is now expected to grow by just 0,5%, compared with 1,5% forecast at the time of the 2019 Budget tabling. Weak economic growth resulted in repeated revenue shortfalls, higher budget deficits and mounting government debt. We have challenges of state-owned enterprises, SOEs, regarding bailouts. This is the matter that the committee has observed and we request the Minister to attend to this issue.
Other factors contributing to the poor revenue performance has to deal with the poor employment outlook with job losses, lower wage settlement, smaller bonuses and reduced personal income tax collection.
On The Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill [B17- 2019], on 3 September 2019, National Treasury and Sars briefed the committee on this Bill. The committee received submissions from different industries including the tobacco industry which complained about the high excise duties.
However, because we have a campaign to reduce smoking, the Treasury started its projection of the excise duty increase. We also want to raise the problem of "no refund" shops where government is not able to collect revenue. There are also a lot of counterfeit goods which are dumped here in South Africa, through that; we are not able to raise revenue. The other Bill that has been tabled by the Minister is the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill [B18-2019].
The Bill is about the reviewing of the tax treatment of the surviving spouses' pension. This amendment seeks to relieve the surviving spouses of additional tax liability and to alleviate the financial burden.
The reviewing of allowable deductions for investors in a Venture Capital Company, VCC, and the refinement of the Employment Incentive Scheme also the Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill, the amendments of Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill are technical corrections of the Income Tax Act of 1962; the Customs and Excise Act of 1964; the Skills Development Levies Act of 1999.
All of this is done to align time periods for a refund under this Act to the Tax Administration Act of 2011; and the Tax Administration Act of 2011. The committee supports and request the House to approve the Bills. Hon Speaker, I move for the adoption. Thank you.
Hon Maswanganyi, you mustn't insist on what you have just said.
Mr Deputy Speaker ... [Interjections.]
Thank you very much, that is more accurate. [Laughter.]
... sir, from the outset of the medium-term budget process, the DA has focused on one question, whether the proposals by the government help to advance fairness in our society. We understand that to govern is to choose. No government can have everything, or satisfy every want.
That is why this government is ethically obliged to make choices which are fair to the country and that means
choosing to prioritise the basic services on which the poor depend and choosing to emphasise investment over consumption.
And it means protecting the incomes of working families, over the ideology of out-of-touch policymakers.
The Bills before us today, Minister, contain a stealthy R12 billion effective tax increase for working families. This is done by failing to adjust tax brackets upwards for inflation.
This R12 billion in additional revenue comes straight from the pockets of every hardworking South African.
Is that fair? No, it is not fair. And it is not ethically defensible. The government has prioritised bailouts for zombie state-owned entities, and has prioritised the salaries of millionaire managers in the civil service, over the working families who are already struggling to get through the month.
These good, hardworking people have faced electricity increases, petrol tax increases, VAT increases, public transport increases, and school fee increases. Their jobs are less and less certain, and their wages have been growing slower than inflation, year after year.
These are the people who you are expecting to pay for this tax increase. These are the people paying more of their hard-earned wages every month to bailout SA Airways, SAA, and Eskom, and to keep millionaire managers in the sheltered comfort to which they have become far too accustomed.
Is that fair, hon members?
HON MEMBERS: No!
No, it is not fair. And it is not ethically defensible. So, last week the DA showed that the party that claims to govern for the poor, is in fact cutting R50 billion in services to the poor. And today the DA is showing that the party that claims to govern for the working classes is making working families pay
R12 billion more in taxes. That is the truth of this Budget.
The truth is that the ANC is not the party of the poor and it is not the party of the working classes, to answer your question. And the truth is that no matter how much you use race rhetoric, real empowerment requires hard decisions. It is the party that governs for the new elite of millionaire managers in the civil service, and multi- millionaire deployed cadres in the zombie SOEs. And in this budget process, we have shown as we have shown today in Technicolor that only the DA is committed to using the levers of government to create a fairer society, where the interests of the poor and of working families are protected and advanced. Thank you.
Deputy Speaker, Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill; Taxation Laws Amendment Bill and the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill are crucial for the sustenance of the country. In the past, we have witnessed these Bills presented as nothing else but Bills that deals with administration of tax, Bills
that are always rushed, not given serious consideration and often processed within a short space of time.
But the reality is that these Bills have serious implications of the lives of our people, and things are not getting better for them. In South Africa, it is workers who bear the tax burden the most, who experience tax increases every year, who are left penniless month- to-month as the cost of living has shackled them into permanent poverty.
Value Added Tax, VAT, was increased from 14 to 15% with an impression that decision will be reviewed, the cost of bread, milk, millie-meal and all other stable foods. The cost of transport, electricity and housing has increased. South African workers are amongst the highly taxed in the world and things are getting worse. Tax by employees continues when wages have not increased.
The reality is that the value of wages today is less than the value of yesterday's wages, and the rate of tax is of tomorrow's wages. The Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill wants to raise
R12,8 billion from personal income tax, from which wages? The workers are asking, where should the money come from?
The Ruling Party and SA Revenue Services, SARS, has deliberately failed to build the necessary capacity to deal with all forms of illicit financial flows and base erosion activities. Illicit tobacco trade, illicit counterfeits goods, illicit illegal movement of undeclared minerals, chrome, platinum, gold and others, and also illegal forms of payment that are not declared to SARS.
While SARS tells us that the revenue loses as a result of illicit tobacco trade amounting to R9 billion every year, international institution like Global Financial Integrity, Africa Monitor, Tax Justice and the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime, all estimates that South Africa loses more than R200 billion every year because of illicit financial flows and base erosions.
To deal with illicit financial flows decisively, the EFF's General Anti- Avoidance of Tax Bill, puts in place comprehensive measures including harsh penalties for the
biggest culprits, the directors of banks, audit companies and bulk of multinational businesses. The Bill is in its final drafting stages. Lastly, amendment to continue with Employment Incentive Skill that encourages employment of young people when all the evidence shows that the whole thing has failed should be considered theft of taxpayer's money.
Unemployment is currently sitting at 29% and the majority of people unemployed are young people. Unemployment amongst young people is more than 50% and it's on the rise, including graduate with post-matric qualification. All that has been achieved with the Employment Incentive Skill is to benefit middlemen and companies, when young people remain languishing in the streets.
The Administration Bills are a sign that the Ruling Party has no believable plans to raise revenue in a believable way. The Ruling Party continues to support big businesses and with tax incentives they do not deserve instead of increased company income tax. SARS has no believable plan of how to tax technological companies like Uber, Google
and Takealot that continues to aggressively avoid paying tax. The EFF rejects these Bills. [Applause.]
Hon Deputy Speaker and members, fiscus as a liability and the provision of public service delivery is premised upon two distinct pillars, firstly, the efficient and effective collection of monies through our various taxes, and secondly, the efficient and effective use thereof by government in their spending.
In the first instance, it is necessary that out tax administration and collection of revenues held the highest standards. Tax law enforcement must be capacitated and those persons and companies who are found trading products in the market for illicit goods, for example, tobacco, should be investigated and successfully prosecuted.
In the second instance, responsible, ethical and lawful administration, and use of the fiscus by government when spending is critical, particularly when we find ourselves caught at a crossroad. Hon members, in terms of the Tax Law Amendment Bill, we support the consolidated
regulations especially as they relate to electronic services.
But we would like to seek better distinction between business-to-business and business-to-customer. We don't want to see additional barriers emerged in the open market space between businesses as they can only negatively impact economic growth. Hon Deputy Speaker, social transformation is heavily dependant on the taxation of the private sector.
The sector is well placed to create jobs and to lift our people out of dire circumstances. But we must be honest in asking ourselves if we are taking the right measures to showcase our country as an attractive destination for foreign direct investment. Hon Deputy Speaker, on the domestic front, we must address the crisis of youth unemployment. We applaud the efforts in the refinement of the Employment Incentive Skill, the Pay As You Earn, and we fully support the mechanisms which will improve our system to ensure that we continue to monitor and evaluate current programmes in government.
Therefore, the committee's recommendation on the study to be conducted by SARS and National Treasury in looking at the successes and challenges of the Employment Tax Incentives is critical, in order to get this right. Hon members, we will never be able to address the ills of social inequality, the indignity of poverty and the desperation of hunger if we don't get our people to work, into training and ownership, and future wealth creations.
We must ensure that our tax incentives are not too complex to drive away voluntary take-ups of the incentives. We should send the message to all private companies that, as simple as it sounds, tax incentives are exactly as simple as they are. Hon Deputy Speaker, in conclusion, the IFP employs government to seriously consider the establishment of a Chapter 9 Integrity Commission which will be able to independently investigate and prosecute those involved in corruption in our public service.
The IFP supports the recommendations and the Bills. Thank you. [Applause.]
Deputy Speaker, as the other speakers have indicated, these Tax Amendment proposals were part of 2019 budget announced on 20 February by the Minister, but have only been processed recently due to the May elections and the changes in the administration. Now we know that the fiscal outlook has deteriorated significantly since February, where the budget has set to be far high at 5,9% up from 4,5% of Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
This is mainly as the result of slow in economic growth of 0,5% and this then of course results in lower tax revenue, and of course in other side we see increased support to state-owned enterprises, SOEs, as you, Minister, have indicated, where does this money going to come from? It has to come from somewhere. We also see a staggering increase in the government debt of R3 trillion to R4,5 trillion or 71,3% of GDP by 2022-23.
So, it is thus crucial to collect all outstanding taxes that are due, and of course it is critical that there must be legitimacy to tax collection. Fallen civil years of tax increases, there's very little space to increase
taxes, and we know the average South African is already overtaxed. As far as these Amendments to the personal income tax are concerned, the proposals, as the previous speakers have indicated, aim to raise R12,8 billion from not adjusting the tables for inflation. In other words, that's the bracket creep.
This is directly going to be taken from your working class and the middle class, which will have fewer funds to spend. The other reports deal with submissions on the tax and tobacco industry. It is also argued that steps have to be taken to address illicit tobacco industry, and there seem to be like R9 billion that should be collected. Now, the issue there is not so much to freeze and exercise duty on the so-called sin taxes.
Minister, we fully support the sin taxes, but the tobacco industries obviously said that there should be a freeze on that because it will result in job losses and reduced income. We therefore agree with the committee that the increase in illicit tobacco product is as a result of weak law enforcement and tax administration challenges at SARS, and that needs to be addressed.
Also, we agree that the committee needs to focus more on Monetary Law Enforcement to stop the illicit of tobacco trade as well as monitoring the improving SARS capacity. This is part of what was lacking in the Fifth Parliament. We must make sure that we exercise sufficient and efficient oversight. We saw in the Fifth Parliament an estimated R50 billion loss of revenue per year. We are now paying the price of state capture and corruption.
So, this is an issue which we feel very strongly about, but we regret the R12,8 billion which will come from the working class. Thank you.
Thank you Deputy Speaker and hon members, tax revenues are critical to the functioning of any democracy, even if this fact might have previously been taken for granted by many citizens. Lower tax collections have serious consequences and can impact everyone, whether it is through lower expenditures on education, health or through increases in tax rates to make up for shortfalls. The ability of a government to borrow at reasonable interest rates is also dependent on its ability to collect taxes.
The ANC supports efforts by President Ramaphosa's government of rebuilding important state institutions. In delivering his state of the nation address in 2018, President Ramaphosa committed that his government will take steps to stabilise the SA Revenue Service, Sars, restore its credibility and strengthen its capacity to meet revenue targets. The President further declared to the nation that this government is keenly aware of the need to demonstrate that the tax revenue collected from their hard-earned income is being used wisely, productively and for its intended purpose.
As the ANC, we remain accountable to the people of this country. We also support the National Treasury in its efforts to strengthen financial management through assisting the Sars to regularise VAT refund payments and rebuild capacity.
The tax revenue shortfalls over the past few years have partly been due to the fact that the economy has been growing slower than had been projected. However, we cannot ignore the potential impact of a reduction in the effectiveness of tax administration. Tax avoidance and
evasion will be on the rise in any economy which is growing more slowly and where taxes have been increased.
A strong, capable and effective revenue authority must be there to limit those activities and make sure that the correct amount of revenue continues to be collected. We call upon the National Treasury to improve its oversight role over Sars and assist it in comprehensively addressing the current governance challenges to maximise revenue collection and restore its credibility as a key institution that should always uphold its reputation.
Given the recent events around Sars, the current leadership have a huge task ahead of it to regain the trust and confidence from the South African public. We call upon the Sars Commissioner, Mr Mark Kingon, to address challenges facing Sars which should include stability of leadership and staff morale. This is because to be able to regain public confidence, the Sars must have employees ready to ensure that when citizens raise concerns; these are addressed efficiently and speedily.
We support efforts by current Sars management to enhance efficiency and provide a better service to large businesses as they have reinstated the Large Business Centre dealing with tax affairs of all major companies. This has benefits for large, medium and small business. Large businesses with complex tax affairs are now receiving dedicated focus and support, while the bulk of the Sars officials are freed up to pay more attention to servicing medium and small businesses.
In relation to the administration of international trade across our borders and the collection of much-needed revenue, we call upon Sars to continuously enhance its operations by providing a seamless and responsive service to all our citizens; enhancing processes and leveraging technology to make it easier for compliant clients to discharge their fiscal responsibilities; and comprehensively addressing noncompliance and illicit activities that pose a risk to South Africa's economic and physical security.
It is important to also highlight the positive outcomes of policies that have made positive contribution to our
citizens' lives in the democratic era. The Employment Tax Incentive boosts job creation. The Employment Tax Incentive was introduced on 1 January 2014 to share the cost of hiring young inexperienced workers between employers and government. The incentive was reviewed and extended in 2016 and 2018. The most recent review found that the incentive's positive benefits are more pronounced in smaller firms.
In 2015-16 about 31 000 employers claimed the incentive for 1,1 million individuals. The tax expenditure associated with the incentive amounted to R4,3 billion in 2017-18. The National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac, conducted a review of the incentives drawing on independent research on the effects of the programme in 2014-15 and 2015- 16. The review found that the number of employees and employment growth rates increased significantly in firms claiming the incentive.
The effects were most pronounced in firms with less than
50 employees, though positive effects was held for all firm sizes. There is no significant evidence that the incentive displaces older workers. The incentive improves
employment growth in firms that were growing before claiming, and firms with shrinking employment, demonstrating that it also plays a role in halting job losses. Employers tend to retain workers after the two- year eligible period passes because the employees have gained experience and on- the-job training. Young workers indicated that the incentive created opportunities they would not otherwise have.
The ANC, as a liberation movement, is still driven by the spirit of the President of the ANC and father of the nation, Tata Madiba and his word:
As long as many of our people still live in utter poverty, as long as children still live under plastic covers, as long as many of our people are still without jobs, no South African should rest and wallow in the joy of freedom.
Thank you. [Applause.]
Thank you hon Deputy Speaker, let me start of by saying that, yes, increase in tax is a burden
particularly to the poorest of the poor. The gap between the rich and the poor is increasing on a daily basis in South Africa. It has not made positive impact on the lives of the poorest of the poor.
In South Africa, Health, Police Service and Social Development are underbudgeted, but there are hundreds of billions of rands that are being embezzled or stolen through corruption, fraud and maladministration.
The NFP welcomes the reports that are here. We note that the purpose of this Bill is to deal with changes in rates and monetary thresholds. The NFP welcomes the increase particularly on alcohol and tobacco.
I am not sure why some of the members seem to take offense particularly to the increase in taxes on alcohol because it is common knowledge in South Africa that alcohol is the most single item that has a massive impact on crime and health. Unless we deal with this thing so that it becomes a deterrent so that people can begin to reduce the consumption of alcohol and particularly tobacco; the challenges that the health sector and the
socioeconomic conditions face will continue. I think we need to support it particularly when we increase taxes on tobacco and alcohol.
We welcome the amendment being sought to relieving surviving spouses of additional tax liability alleviating financial burdens when withholding taxes by the retirement funds on spousal pensions. I think this must be welcome because it has a positive impact particularly on those spouses who have estates of the deceased because the amounts that they generally have to pay with regard to taxes and things, is a serious challenge for these people in South Africa.
On the proposal to review allowable deductions for investors in a venture capital company, we note the resistance and submissions made.
The introduction of the Employee Tax Incentive in 2014 to promote the employment of young workers between the ages of 18 to 29 was welcome at that stage, however, no study or research has been done to date to establish its success. We, however, note the submission made by the
committee that a process will be undertaken to establish its successes or failures. The NFP supports the Report tabled here today. Thank you.
Thank you Deputy Speaker, the present set of the proposed legislation, in the phase of it may appear to assist the people but it is a serious blow to the poor and working people who already are suffering untold difficulties in the light of the huge haemorrhaging of public funds that have gone down the drain called the Zondo Commission.
What we are seeing is how much money of the people of South Africa has disappeared into nothing and the people that are left without places to go to, school to go, hospitals to go and so on.
The government is coming forward with a good story that it is now going to raise taxation so that the public can pay for the state-owned enterprises, SOEs, that have consumed so much of our money; for the Guptas and Bosasas, who have taken all the money; the poor must now pay more tax so that we cover up for the damage done.
We want to make the point simple. Unless we are given an explanation as to how we are going to recover these millions of rands, because the Minister of Finance has advised us not long ago that the money of the people has been finished. We are not in government but you are. You finished the money. [Interjections.] Therefore, please explain that. We are going to tell the people that you have wasted their money; you are chowing their money and now you are protecting your own corrupt collection of public funds. [Interjections.] We will not support this step. We will be there to tell the people. I thank you. [Applause.]
Hon Deputy Speaker, in February, the Minister will tell us what government is going to do ...
Alright. Alright. Order. Order.
Hhayi thula! [Shut up!]
... to avert the plunge of our economy over the fiscal cliff. That is the point at which all of
government revenue is spent on the public sector wage bill, interest repayments and social grants.
If government behaviour does not change now, there would be no money for service delivery. While other African economies growth surges ahead, ours does not, because government discourages entrepreneurial behaviour and is now amending our tax laws to make venture capital investments even more difficult.
A DA government will liberate our economy and entrepreneurs will thrive as they have done in South Africa's fastest growing economy, the Western Cape. Our taxation laws should facilitate accelerated economic growth.
Although the Minister has said what is necessary to avert the fiscal cliff, nobody believes that he will take any action. The rating agencies did not believe him. Moody's and Standard & Poor's immediately responded by downgrading our credit outlook to negative.
The only way that government can avoid the fiscal cliff, is to cut spending or increase revenue. There are a number of taxation amendments proposed and they still do not go far enough to generate the revenue that the Minister will need the numbers work. The growing deficit reflects that reality. What the proposed tax laws do, is continue to increase the tax burden on already hard at consumers whose only response can be to reduce their spending elsewhere and further shrink our economy. Increased taxation on the tobacco industry, although it is welcomed, will not generate enough revenue neither will proposals to more heavily tax our vital motor industry.
A developmental state can work only if there is a capable and competent government, and we have neither. Instead of dabbling on the income side of our balanced sheet, government needs to focus on its spending.
The public sector wage bill is spiralled on the back of a failed cadre deployment fiasco that resulted in millionaire managers feasting on the people's money, while service delivery dries up with no money to pay
salaries for frontline service providers such as educators, police and nurses. These are the basic building blocks of service delivery and they are broken. They are broken because the public enterprises model has failed and it cannot be fixed.
Billions in bailouts have been squandered on the zombie enterprises Eskom and SA Airways, SAA, whose executives pay themselves millions in bonuses, when they are hopelessly bankrupt and churn out one failed turnaround strategy after the other. A DA government would split Eskom, and allow independent power producers to inject much needed efficiency into the power grid. Our government has proven unable to deliver a reliable electricity supply and it should allow those who are able to do it, to get on with the job. A DA government would sell SAA, or, more likely, give it away to someone who will be willing to take it and pay back the people's money that it never should have received to keep it artificially alive. [Applause.]
It would also be possible to increase social grants to the most vulnerable members of our society if public
finances were better managed. A DA government would do just that.
Sadly, Minister, your little Aloe is not going to survive, unless you do what you say you will do and it is very clear that you cannot cut spending. So, in February, we will see further tax increases that would crowd out more economic activity and further dumped economic growth.
We will not support the taxation amendments. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ngiyathokoza mhlonitjhwa Sekela Somlomo. Ngilotjhisa woke amalunga ahloniphekileko weNdlu le, iintatanyiswa ezikhona kunye nesitjhaba soke seSewula Afrika.
The impact of activities within the illicit economy is a real threat to the country and its impact is huge. The illicit economy ranges from the underground economy,
which operates outside the rules and regulations of the country, to organised crime. Sometimes, well respected companies partake in illicit activities too.
The United Nations estimates that money flowing to organised crime outstripped all the money that the developing countries could devote to long-term development. South Africa is losing a large portion of its gross domestic product, GDP, every year to the illicit economy. This has mainly been in the form of smuggling of tobacco products, counterfeit textiles, drug manufacturing and smuggling, illicit mining of gold and diamonds, ivory smuggling and the poaching of endangered species like abalone and rhino.
[Stjhaba sekhethu] My fellow nation, all of us as South Africans can stop the growth of the illicit economy if we can do the following: Firstly, refuse to buy counterfeit goods or contraband cigarettes, secondly, report poaching incidents to SA Revenue Service, Sars, the police and the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, and thirdly, report informal trade in precious stones such as diamonds to Sars and the police.
[Malunga ahloniphekileko] Hon members, the co-operation between financial institutions, public law-enforcement agencies and other government agencies is critical in dealing with illicit financial flows. The Financial Intelligent Centre which is housed in the National Treasury is a significant tool for monitoring the financial sector. However, it is limited for monitoring the formal financial sector. The financial sector has a high-level of compliance with the Financial Intelligence Centre Act. The Act, and recent amendments, gives the Reserve Bank significant powers to monitor transactions and require banks to report suspicious transactions.
The legislative framework also creates room for greater co-operation among the three institutions namely: The SA Revenue Service, SA Reserve Bank, and the Financial Intelligence Centre in order to connect the dots and pick up patterns regarding money laundering, tax evasion or fraud.
[Mhlonitjhwa Sekela Somlomo] Hon Deputy Speaker, the 54th ANC Elective Conference resolved that and I quote, "Government must urgently crack down on tax avoidance and
illicit capital." The ANC's vision for South Africa is that of a society based on democratic values, social justice and human rights and a democratic and open society.
Our President, His Excellency Matamela Ramaphosa always emphasises the democratic values of transparency and accountability. Transparency and certainty are well- understood as characteristics of a good tax system. The Tax Administration Act sets out precise methods and standards for tax administration to be fair, transparent, equitable and predictable.
[Stjhaba sekhethu] My fellow nation, the National Development Plan outlines our long-term vision. A core element of this vision is a commitment to strong, sustained and inclusive economic growth to sharply reduce unemployment, poverty and inequality. We are building partnerships to find solutions to the developmental challenges faced by South Africa and the region. We are determined to support greater economic development within our townships and countryside communities. Our spending
on infrastructure aims to promote industrialisation across the country.
[Mhlonitjhwa Sekela Somlomo] Hon Deputy Speaker, I think in a nutshell as different political parties, we are agreeing on the challenges that are facing us as a country as far as issues of economy and fiscal challenges. We are all agreeing that [Siphefumula ngenceba] we are breathing through the wound. However, I hear other political parties speak as if we as the ANC we are not accepting the challenges that are facing us as a country. For instance, the hon Hill-Lewis comes here and says the ANC is protecting what he said are the millionaire managers in the public sector, whereas it was the Minister of Finance who came with the concept of the millionaire manager in the public sector. [Laughter.]
It is the Minister of Finance who came here during the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement and said we need to address that and we need to freeze the salaries of the so-called millionaire managers in the public sector. However, today Hill-Lewis is bringing this thing here to say no the ANC is protecting those people. Where did we
protect them because even in the committee we agreed that we need to address that? That it is a challenge that needs to be addressed. [Applause.]
Equally the EFF, well they are raising the number of challenges that they are raising. The hon Mohlala - which are the challenges that we spoke about in the committee and all of us agreed that these are challenges that are facing us and need to be addressed. Nobody amongst us - all political parties we all agreed that these are the challenges that are facing us and they need to be addressed.
So, as members of this House what is important is that we must not spend 80% of our time speaking about our challenges, but we rather spend 20% indicating what are these challenges and spend 80% coming up with solutions as to how are we going to address those particular challenges. [Applause.]
So, the members sit with us in the committee and we all agree that we have these particular challenges, but now they come here and accuse us as if we as the ANC have
refused to address and attend to these particular challenges. For instance the issue of the illicit tobacco there are leaders of political parties in this House who are benefitting from illicit tobacco. We know that, but now they come here and pretend to be holy and say no there is an issue of illicit tobacco when we know that the leaders of some of these parties are benefitting from them.
So, members you must not do that. Let us join hands, work together and make sure that we address the challenges of that are facing us as a country. [Applause.]
Mhlonitjhwa Sekela Somlomo, siyi ANC, siyawusekela umbiko lo. Ngithokoza khulu kwamambala. Inarha ayilale. [Iwahlo.]
Deputy Speaker, I would like to start off by thanking the Standing Committee on Finance for the work that they have done in going through what must be technically difficult matters and thank hon Maswanganyi for his leadership of the committee.
Hon members, in this House, it is always good to return to what the purpose of this discussion is all about after everything else has been said. The purpose here is to consider and adopt the rates and monitory amounts and amendment of Revenue Laws Bill to the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill and thirdly, the Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill.
It has got nothing to do with what the leader of Cope was talking about. Under normal circumstances he should have been called to order that he was out of order. It might be the case that he has not read the documentation. Nevertheless, our job is to help you understand what this is all about.
In the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, we indicted very clearly the difficulties that this country is going through and there is no need to repeat that here. The economic growth rate is disappointing and we know that. The question is what to do about it. We know that the expenditure continues to put a lot of pressure on the budgets. We know what we can afford and what we can't afford and the question is what to do about it.
Our role as the leadership is to implement a set of policies and programmes to make sure that we get our act back in order. In this instance as you know, following on the Nugent Commission of Inquiry Report, we have now begun to restructure Sars to put it back to what it is supposed to be. We have appointed the new Sars Commissioner who is hard at work ensuring that we render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, all of us.
He has already begun to build the large business centre unit and also the Illicit Economy Unit and these are already beginning to bear fruits. I have indicated in this House before that we have already had some successes particularly at the border posts in stopping illegal cigarettes coming into the country, in particular, at the Beit Bridge border post and we have been successful in that regard.
I know that the tobacco industry is keen on reducing the tax burden that they carry but they know every year we have to make adjustments to the excise duties on tobacco. And I know, they have come with many explanations about how in their view the increase in excise duties has not
brought above more revenue but instead, it has lessened the revenue. I think it is a good discussion to have but, we have to continue to adjust the excise duties unfortunately. In short hon members, as I always say, I thank you very much for your contributions and I thank again the committee and the Chair for the leadership. Thank you very much. Debate concluded.