Thursday, 15 October 2020 16:23

 

File Photo.

Government has reiterated its commitment to take decisive action against crime and corruption – a move President Cyril Ramaphosa says is essential for inclusive growth.

“We are working to clamp down on the illegal economy and illicit financial flows, including transfer pricing abuse, profit shifting, VAT and customs duty fraud, under-invoicing of manufactured imports, corruption and other illegal schemes,” the President said on Thursday.

He was addressing a Joint Hybrid Sitting of Parliament on the South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

The plan aims to expedite, in a sustainable manner, the recovery of South Africa’s economy, which was, like most economies, deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A well-functioning Revenue Service is central to our economic recovery programme. The turnaround at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has begun in earnest, and significant areas of tax evasion and tax fraud have already been identified,” the President said.

SARS is rebuilding its capacity to reverse the decline, improve compliance and recover lost tax revenue.

“The decisive action we have taken to prevent, detect and act against COVID-related corruption will strengthen the broader fight against crime,” the President said.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has made significant progress in probing allegations of criminal conduct in all public entities during the National State of Disaster.

“The work of the SIU continues and the outcomes of the investigations will be made public once all the due processes have been completed.

“Law enforcement agencies are being strengthened and provided with adequate resources to enable the identification and swift prosecution of corruption and fraud,” Ramaphosa said.

The President has also assured all South Africans that there will be no political interference in the work of law enforcement agencies.

“We will strengthen the framework to ensure that political office-bearers, at all spheres of government, do not do business with the State.

“We welcome the agreement at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) that all social partners will act decisively against corruption and fraud in their ranks.

“The Public Procurement Bill will be fast-tracked and transversal contracts put in place for large-volume items,” the President said.

Government will soon finalise and begin the implementation of the new National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which will improve transparency, monitoring and accountability in government and across society.

“Through these actions, we will ensure that every Rand of public expenditure is spent productively to benefit our people and support our recovery effort.

“All of these actions will be taken within a supportive macro-economic framework, which balances the need to restore fiscal sustainability with economic growth,” Ramaphosa said.

A critical pillar of this plan is the fiscal framework, which will be outlined by the Minister of Finance in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.

Among other things, this framework will provide a path of fiscal consolidation, debt reduction and reprioritisation that is supportive of growth and recovery.

“We cannot sustain the current levels of debt, particularly as increasing borrowing costs are diverting resources that should be going to economic and social development,” the President said.

The President noted the disturbing trend of criminal elements illegal occupying construction sites and soliciting protection money from businesses.

To combat these practices, a Joint Rapid Response Team at a national and provincial level will respond to the problem of violent disruptions at construction sites and other business activities.