SA Anglican bishops slam VAT increase

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JOHANNESBURG, February 23 – South African bishops from the Anglican church on Friday added their voice to the rising chorus of disapproval of this week’s increase in value-added tax (VAT), saying ordinary citizens were being compelled to pay for gaps in the budget caused by corruption.

In a terse statement, the Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa said the Anglican Church of Southern Africa was very concerned about the one percent VAT increase, announced by finance minister Malusi Gigaba in his budget speech on Wednesday.

“It is distressing to us that the ordinary citizens of South Africa are being called upon through increased VAT to fill the gaps in government finances which are partly a result of massive maladministration and corruption, especially in state-owned enterprises,” said the statement.

“We urge the South African government, as we have urged all governments in our region, to develop budgets which help the poor, to expose corruption and ensure that those who perpetrate it, whether in the private or public sector, are brought to justice.”

The increase, which comes into effect on 1 April, was the first time VAT was raised since 1993. It now stands at 15 percent.

South Africa is battling an R50 bn revenue shortfall largely blamed on the poor administration of state-owned enterprises, corruption, and poor tax collection.

Unions and other concerned non-governmental organizations have lambasted the new administration under President Cyril Ramaphosa for the move which they say will hurt the poor the most.

– African News Agency (ANA)