Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA

Cape Town - As the annual tax filing season opened, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on Monday said government was deeply committed to stabilising the South African Revenue Service to a credible operation and making sure it met collection targets.

"There can be no mission more important than stabilising and restoring Sars into an institution that is credible in the eyes of the South African public," Nene said.

He said the finance ministry would support Sars to fulfill its work while the commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance at the revenue service, as well as the disciplinary hearing into the conduct of suspended commissioner Tom Moyane were under way.

"We should allow the two processes to run their course. The ministry of finance and National Treasury continue to work with the Sars management team to ensure that the institution stays the course and delivers on its mandate," Nene said. 

"It is doubtful that there is any single agency in government whose operational performance is more critical to the work of government than Sars. It is common knowledge that government would not be able to meet its social objectives without the taxes and other revenues that are collected by Sars... All I can promise you is that Sars is too important an institution and we shall do all in our power to ensure that it lives up to its mandate."

Nene thanked acting commissioner Mark Kingon "for holding the fort and for providing excellent leadership to the men and women of this wonderful organisation".

The commission of inquiry into the running of Sars commenced its work last week. Moyane tried to stop the inquiry after three days of damning testimony from former employees, calling it "grossly unfair".

He headed Sars for four years during which it missed its revenue collection targets by a total of almost R100 billion and was widely viewed as having become a tool in the power struggle between former president Jacob Zuma and his political foes.

African News Agency/ANA