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R470,000 for serviettes – and other things South African taxpayers are paying for at state funerals

Public works and Infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille plans to cap the cost of state and official funerals after taxpayers forked out millions for the services in 2018 and 2019.

Public works and Infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille plans to cap the cost of state and official funerals after taxpayers forked out millions for the services in 2018 and 2019.

The Sunday Times reports that the funerals of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and two other ANC struggle stalwarts cost taxpayers R76 million, after the company that staged the funerals artificially inflated its invoices.

According to invoices seen by the paper, some of the most notable costs include:

  • R7 million to hire padded chairs, leather couches and scatter cushions;
  • R2.47 million for draping;
  • R470,000 for serviettes;
  • R695,000 for orchestra equipment
  • R30,000 to dig three graves.

De Lille said that her department has given instruction to the relevant officials to lay criminal charges against the service provider.

“The department intends to institute civil and criminal action to recover R7.7 million from the service provider in this regard,” she said.

Tax hikes

With government’s excessive spending set to continue, economist Dawie Roodt has warned that that further tax increases can be expected in 2020

Roodt noted that the state’s debt is at record levels, meaning “there will be tax hikes”.

“The question is which one of the taxes will be increased? I am pretty sure that things like the fuel levy will be increased, and sin taxes.”

The economist said that the two taxes that can make a difference to the country’s finances are personal income tax, and value-added tax (VAT) and that February’s Budget will reveal all.

“I think personally personal income tax will be increased,” Roodt said.

Roodt’s comments align with Treasury’s revenue concerns which it outlined in its medium-term budget policy statement released at the end of October.

“Significant tax increases over the past several years leave only moderate scope to boost tax revenue at this time,” the Treasury said.

However, despite this limited scope, Treasury said that additional tax measures are under consideration to raise an extra R10 billion in fiscal 2021 – but did not provide any further details.

“Given the fiscal position we find ourselves in, all tax options need to be on the table,” said Chris Axelson, chief director for economic tax analysis in the Treasury.”

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