The sharp fall in the number of staff employed by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has limited its ability to curb illicit financial flows, which drain billions of rand from the economy every year. The exodus of employees — particularly acute during the troubled term of suspended commissioner Tom Moyane — means the staff complement of the tax authority has declined from over 14,000 a few years ago to about 12,600 now. "If we don’t invest in this, delivery might suffer," said acting commissioner Mark Kingon in a briefing to Parliament’s finance committee on Wednesday. He acknowledged that SARS had not been dealing efficiently with illicit financial flows, illicit tobacco and other illicit trade. This has been a source of great concern to the committee, especially in the context of the sharp fall in tax revenue, which has necessitated an increase in the rate of value-added tax (VAT) by one percentage point. MPs have urged greater co-ordination between the different agencies in...

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