Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana distances himself from Sars salary dispute
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Johannesburg - Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has maintained that he is not party to the salary dispute between the SA Revenue Service (Sars), its commissioner Edward Kieswetter and the Public Servants Association (PSA).
In an answering affidavit filed by National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane on Godongwana’s behalf at the North Gauteng High Court, the minister said neither he nor Treasury are parties to the wage agreement.
”Consequently, the minister cannot be in breach of such agreement. Furthermore, the implementation and enforcement of the agreement falls on the national forums as stipulated in clause 3.6 of the wage agreement and not the minister. The minister is not a party to the forum,” reads the affidavit.
According to Mogajane, the PSA does not plead a legal basis on which it contends that Godongwana has breached the agreement.
“I submit that it cannot do so simply because there is no basis in law to support this contention,” he explained.
Mogajane insisted that the allocation Sars received was R1 billion higher than what the taxman was budgeted to receive.
“I deny that Sars was entitled to receive from the National Treasury a budget allocation for salary increases for 2021/22,” he said.
Mogajane added that Sars’ budget of over R10.5bn for the 2021/22 financial year was inclusive of personnel costs (cost-to-company and related).
The PSA accuses Sars of failing to implement the final leg of the three-year wage agreement signed in 2019 and refusing to implement a 6.2% pay hike that was due to be implemented in April this year.
Sars implemented the agreement in 2019/20 and 2020/21 and paid its staff an 8% increase and consumer price index plus 2% in both years respectively.
“Regrettably, the relief sought by the applicant (PSA) against the third respondent (Godongwana) invites the court to usurp the power of Parliament and to seek an order that is not competent for the court to grant,” Mogajane said, adding that the relief sought by the union is not legally competent.
He explained that the PSA is seeking an order directing Godongwana to make an allocation of funds to Sars to enable the institution to implement salary adjustments for its employees for the 2021/22 financial year as set out in the wage agreement.
“The court cannot direct the National Treasury to effect withdrawals from the National Revenue fund as such determinations are polycentric in their nature and fall within the exclusive domain of the executive and the legislature. The relief, if granted, would offend the separation of powers principle,” Mogajane told the court.
He said withdrawing money from the National Revenue Fund is inconsistent with the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act.
“The National Treasury does not have the authority to approve a budget and allocation for Sars for whatever purposes. As I pointed out, this is a constitutional function, exercised solely by Parliament,” Mogajane insisted.
“The applicant’s (PSA’s) inexplicable failure to establish the true facts must be construed as a blatant attempt to compel the National Treasury to withdraw money from the National Revenue Fund to fund the wage increases without the requisite approval of Parliament. This is patently unlawful,” he said.
The PSA has indicated that the matter is ready to be set down by the high court for arguments.
Sars also filed a counter application to have the entire agreement declared unlawful.