Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Academic Prof Ingrid Woolard will head a nine-person panel to review  which products  South Africans will not pay VAT on.

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening‚ Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said the panel would "review the current list of VAT zero-rated items and consider the most effective way to mitigate the impact of the increase in the VAT rate on poor and low-income households".

A VAT increase from 14% to 15% took effect on April 1.

"The review will consider expanding the list of basic items that are VAT zero-rated‚ and consider how specific expenditure programmes can be improved to better target poor and low-income households. While the focus of the panel will be on food items to be included for zero-rating‚ it will also identify any other items that should be considered to achieve the policy intention of providing relief for poor and low-income households‚" the statement read.

Woolard is the current dean of the faculty of commerce at the University of Cape Town (UCT), a post she is set to leave in just a week’s time to begin her new job as the dean of economic and management science at Stellenbosch University.

According to a CV published on UCT’s website‚ from 2008 to 2014 Woolard served on the Employment Conditions Commission‚ which advises the Minister of Labour on making sectoral determinations concerning working conditions and minimum wages in sectors where collective bargaining is weak. Since 2013 she has served on the Davis Tax Committee‚ which advises the finance minister on tax reform.

Other members of the VAT review panel are economists Ayabonga Cawe‚ Prof Ada Jansen‚ Dr Thabi Leoka‚ Cecil Morden and Dr Neva Makgetla‚ as well as the national health department’s Lynn Moeng‚ SARS tax manager Prenesh Ramphal and Wits University dean of commerce‚ law and management Prof Imraan Voladia.

An initial report is expected to be delivered to Nene and to the Davis Tax Committee by June 30.