Skip to main content
Press Release

Budget lacks action to combat R100bn looters

Wednesday February 22 2023 – TAX Justice SA (TJSA) is calling for more action against illicit trade after today’s Budget exposed Government’s inability to tackle the menace that is stealing R100 billion a year from state coffers.

“Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s Budget spoke volumes about how little real attention Government is giving to the hugely destructive problem of illicit trade,” TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee said.

“Although the speech made passing reference to illicit trade, it failed to acknowledge the impact it has on the lives of ordinary South Africans who are being deprived of essential services daily.

“And it made no provision to empower enforcement authorities so they can properly combat the criminal kingpins who are making billions by flooding the market with tax-evading goods.

“Yet again, it was lots of talk, with no real promise of action. South Africans are crying out for more.”

Minister Godongwana said SARS had taken steps to enhance its effectiveness against illicit trade, particularly in tobacco. He said SARS had “handed over 92 cases for criminal proceedings with the NPA, of which two resulted in successful convictions, relating to tobacco smuggling syndicates”.

“Two convictions from 92 cases is a shameful indictment of how our prosecuting authorities have been crippled by years of State Capture,” said Abramjee. “The illicit cigarette kingpins are laughing all the way to the bank.

“But Ministers can no longer use State Capture as an excuse. Those days are meant to be over. The Police Minister must be called to account over allegations of high-level collusion between SAPS and organised crime syndicates involved in illicit trade.

“Meanwhile, the Treasury must ensure that SARS and the NPA are properly funded and equipped so they can bring the looters to justice and return their ill-gotten wealth to honest South Africans, to whom it rightfully belongs.”