SARS needs R1 billion to fix broken IT system – report

The IT infrastructure at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) may be on a verge of collapse following the halting of a modernisation programme.

This is according to SARS acting group executive for IT strategy and architecture Andre Rabie‚ who was testifying at the Nugent commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance on Monday, BusinessDay reported.

Rabie said that modernisation programme was suddenly stopped after suspended SARS commissioner, Tom Moyane, paid global consultancy Gartner to assess the tax body’s IT system and strategy for around R200 million.

“We got word of this via a corporate communication and we basically stopped the process. There was basically no change control. It was a shock and it was not great for the moral‚” Rabie said.

He added that Gartner had only consulted him and his team through assessments and questionnaires – which were not very detailed.

“What suddenly started to happen is our support functions started to run autonomously and it was centralised. There was no consideration for the digitised specific requirements. Effectively‚ infrastructure is far behind. It’s pointing to the imminent collapse of the digital infrastructure at SARS‚” Rabie said.

Rabie estimated that it will now cost close to R1 billion to fix SARS’ ageing systems. He added that the revenue service was functioning at only 20%-25% of its previous capacity due to the halt in the modernisation programme.

“We are on a trajectory where failures will become the norm, which will have a huge impact on the tax and customs world,” said Rabie.

Read: The biggest complaints taxpayers have with SARS – and why it is blocking refunds

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SARS needs R1 billion to fix broken IT system – report