Sars had collected R374bn or 28.3% of the budget estimate of revenue of R1.3-trillion for 2018-2019 by end-July, figures released by the Treasury on Thursday show. This compares with the R335bn (28%) collected during the same period last year. A close eye is being kept on revenue collection trends because of the sluggish economy and the danger that the Treasury will not meet its deficit target for the year. The major difference between last year and this year has been the one percentage point hike in the VAT rate to 15%, which came into effect on April 1 and is expected to raise R23bn in additional revenue. The Treasury figures indicate that government expenditure amounted to R497bn or 32.9% of the budgeted estimate of expenditure compared with the R463.4bn (33%) up until July 2017. ensorl@businesslive.co.za

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