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ATAF, World Bank partner to strengthen African tax system

African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), a regional confederation of African countries tax collection bodies has penned down a memorandum of understanding with the World Bank to roll out the red carpet for collaborative engagements and partnerships on strengthening Africa’s tax systems.

The two organizations met in Washington DC last week to commence the partnership which will entail numerous technical assistance programs and frameworks. Key to this partnership will be leveraging on the World Bank is cutting edge expertise and resources  to assist African countries build a strong tax regime for the development of their countries. The African Tax Administration Forum has in many instances underscored that African countries’ biggest loophole in domestic revenue mobilization  was  that tax collection revenues lack capacity and thus were not fully effective and efficient in delivering their mandates.

The General Assembly of the Africa Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) held in Gaborone early this year underscored regulatory constraints and limited internal capacity of African tax collection bodies as key factors that continue to hinder effective and efficient domestic resources and revenue mobilization through tax by relevant authorities.

At the memorandum signing ceremony in DC ATAF Executive Secretary, Logan Wort and the World Bank Group represented by its Global Director Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment Global Practice, Marcello de Moura Estevão Filho noted that under the MoU, the two organizations intend to share knowledge, and pool their expertise and resources to jointly deliver technical assistance and build capacity across Africa.

Logan Wort said the World Bank is a traditional ally of ATAF, noting that the two organizations have in the past, cooperated on numerous projects, including AFTAF’s programs aimed at building the capacity of ATAF’s Members and improving their efficiency in tax revenue mobilization. “As we are about to step into the next decade of ATAF, consolidating ties with like-minded organizations such as the World Bank Group can only be beneficial to our membership across the continent,” he said.

The ATAF Head said African countries lose over $100 billion to illicit capital and illegal financial flows annually. He highlighted that building tax administration capacity was needed to help spur development in Africa. Tax revenues account for over a third of GDP in developed economies while contributing far less in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where they correspond to less than a fifth of GDP.

Deliberations at  ATAF  forum early this year underscored that more tax revenue would not only help the African countries to function and pay for goods and services, but would open the way for other market and state reforms that would promote economic, social and environmental development.

“Raising tax burdens might seem like an odd proposition to policymakers, but when taxes account for 10 to 15% of GDP, a well-designed increase in tax is exactly what many developing countries need: just as an excessively heavy tax burden might crush activity, an excessively low one can starve an economy of the oxygen it needs to advance,” said Mr. Logan Wort Executive Secretary of African Tax Administration Forum.

Wort says institutional arrangements were another issue which can have an impact on the effectiveness of tax administration. He shared that revenue bodies in most African countries follow a relatively unified, semiautonomous model, meaning that they have considerable freedom to interpret tax laws, allocate resources, design internal structures and implement appropriate human resource management strategies. “At the same time, they are responsible for tax, customs and non-tax revenue operations, this can cause some resources stretch and result in gross inefficiencies,” said Logan Wort.

THE WORLD BANK ON AFRICAN TAX SYSTEMS.

The World Bank says mobilizing tax revenue is key if developing countries are to finance the investments in human capital, health and infrastructure necessary to achieve the World Bank Group’s goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity by 2030. “To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, low-income countries face an estimated annual financing gap of half a trillion dollars, 0.5 percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

According the Washington Based Global lender Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the largest number of economies below the minimum desirable tax-to-GDP ratio of 15%. At that level, revenues are inadequate to finance basic state functions. The Bank says relatively low tax collections in the region reflect weaknesses in revenue management, including widespread tax exemptions, corruption, and shortfalls in the capacity of tax and customs administrations.

Given the regions relatively large agricultural sectors and less open economies, the capacity to raise tax revenues is also lower. The maximum tax revenue potential for countries in the region is estimated to average 19.6% of GDP, which is 7.5 points lower than in the rest of the world. Experts say most African economies have the potential to mobilize more in taxes. This according to the World Bank can be done through better tax administration including value-added taxes, broadening the tax base by removing cost-ineffective tax expenditures, and increasing excise taxes including on alcohol, tobacco, and soft drinks.

“In addition, it’s important to introduce efficient carbon-pricing policies and effective property taxation while closing international tax loopholes that permit aggressive tax avoidance and evasion by multinationals and wealthy individuals,” proposes the global lender. The World Bank is also of the view that reducing structural bottlenecks is also part of suite of tools to consider in improving revenue outcomes, including by improving taxpayers’ trust and by moving tax administrations to the digital frontier.

BOTSWANA‘S TAX ADMINISTRATION

Like many African countries, the taxation structure in Botswana was basic at the time of its independence in 1966 comprising mainly of the Income Tax department. However, five decades later, the country’s fiscal landscape has transformed, guided by orderly legislative reforms and institutional transformation.

 Over the past five decades, a number of tax laws were put in place aimed at improving the country’s tax regime. In addition to the review of the old Income Tax and Customs Act, the Government adopted the Value Added Tax Act of 2002, and Botswana Revenue Service Act of 2003. The latter culminated in the establishment of the Botswana Revenue Service (BURS).

As a result of these measures, Botswana is currently financing over 60 percent of its budget from the domestic tax revenue, while the balance comes from the customs duties and other revenues. The contribution of ODA to the budget is less than one percent. The tax to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio is around 20 percent, which, though lower than in OECD countries, Botswana boast of it as very competitive among the Sub-Saharan countries.

OEDC ON AFRICAN TAX SYSTEM

Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OEDC) has in the past noted that African countries tax system was one of the weakest in the world going on to name some African countries such as Botswana in the past ‘tax haven’. Botswana has since cleansed itself off the tag. However the OECD  still maintains that  tax exemptions such as IFSC fiscal framework  in the case of Botswana and many Africa countries has little impact on investment attraction but only cripple the country‘s revenue collection vehicles

“Under pressure to offer internationally-competitive tax environments, developing countries offer generous tax breaks that undermine their domestic resource mobilization efforts with little demonstrable benefit in terms of increased investment,” says OECD. Botswana has been cited as one good example for such. The underlying concern by OECD is that low income countries often face acute pressures to attract investment by offering tax incentives, which then erode the countries’ tax bases with little benefit even after running for several years. OEDC is of the view that these arrangement do not output significant and desirable results but only cripple the country‘s revenue collection vehicles.

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Business

Investors inject capital into Tsodilo Resources Company

25th January 2023

Local diamond and metal exploration company Tsodilo Resources Limited has negotiated a non-brokered private placement of 2,200, 914 units of the company at a price per unit of 0.20 US Dollars, which will provide gross proceeds to the company in the amount of C$440, 188. 20.

According to a statement from the group, proceeds from the private placement will be used for the betterment of the Xaudum iron formation project in Botswana and general corporate purposes.

The statement says every unit of the company will consist of a common share in the capital of the company and one Common Share purchase warrant of the company.

Each warrant will enable a holder to make a single purchase for the period of 24 months at an amount of $0.20. As per regularity requirements, the group indicates that the common shares and warrants will be subject to a four month plus a day hold period from date of closure.

Tsodilo is exempt from the formal valuation and minority shareholder approval requirements. This is for the reason that the fair market value of the private placement, insofar as it involves the director, is not more than 25% of the company’s market capitalization.

Tsodilo Resources Limited is an international diamond and metals exploration company engaged in the search for economic diamond and metal deposits at its Bosoto Limited and Gcwihaba Resources projects in Botswana.  The company has a 100% stake in Bosoto which holds the BK16 kimberlite project in the Orapa Kimberlite Field (OKF) in Botswana.

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Business

Global CEOs Back Plan to Unlock $3.4 Trillion Potential of Africa Free Trade Area

23rd January 2023

African heads of state and global CEOs at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting backed the launch of the first of its kind report on how public-private partnerships can support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

AfCFTA: A New Era for Global Business and Investment in Africa outlines high-potential sectors, initiatives to support business and investment, operational tools to facilitate the AfCFTA, and illustrative examples from successful businesses in Africa to guide businesses in entering and expanding in this area.

The report aims to provide a pathway for global businesses and investors to understand the biggest trends, opportunities and strategies to successfully invest and achieve high returns in Africa, developing local, sub-regional and continental value chains and accelerating industrialization, all of which go hand in hand with the success of the AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA is the largest free trade area in the world, by area and number of participating countries. Once fully implemented, it will be the fifth-largest economy in the world, with the potential to have a combined GDP of more than $3.4 trillion. Conceived in 2018, it now has 54 national economies in Africa, could attract billions in foreign investment, and boost overseas exports by a third, double intra-continental trade, raise incomes by 8% and lift 50 million people out of poverty.

To ease the pain of transition to its new single market, Africa has learned from trade liberalization in North America and Europe. “Our wide range of partners and experience can help anticipate and mitigate potential disruptions in business and production dynamics,” said Børge Brende, President, and World Economic Forum. “The Forum’s initiatives will help to ease physical, capital and digital flows in Africa through stakeholder collaboration, private-public collaboration and information-sharing.”

Given the continent’s historically low foreign direct investment relative to other regions, the report highlights the sense of excitement as the AfCFTA lowers or removes barriers to trade and competitiveness. “The promising gains from an integrated African market should be a signal to investors around the world that the continent is ripe for business creation, integration and expansion,” said Chido Munyati, Head of Regional Agenda, Africa, World Economic Forum.

The report focuses on four key sectors that have a combined worth of $130 billion and represent high-potential opportunities for companies looking to invest in Africa: automotive; agriculture and agroprocessing; pharmaceuticals; and transport and logistics.

“Macro trends in the four key sectors and across Africa’s growth potential reveal tremendous opportunities for business expansion as population, income and connectivity are on the rise,” said Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, AfCFTA Secretariat.

“These projections reveal an unprecedented opportunity for local and global businesses to invest in African countries and play a vital role in the development of crucial local and regional value chains on the continent,” said Landry Signé, Executive Director and Professor, Thunderbird School of Global Management and Co-Chair, World Economic Forum Regional Action Group for Africa.

The Forum is actively working towards implementing trade and investment tools through initiatives, such as Friends of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, to align with the negotiation process of the AfCFTA. It identifies areas where public-private collaboration can help reduce barriers and facilitate investment from international firms.

About the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 convenes the world’s foremost leaders under the theme, Cooperation in a Fragmented World. It calls on world leaders to address immediate economic, energy and food crises while laying the groundwork for a more sustainable, resilient world. For further information,

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Electricity generation down 15.8%

9th January 2023

Electricity generation in Botswana during the third quarter of 2022 declined by 15.8%, following operational challenges at Botswana Power Corporation’ Morupule B power plant, according to Statistics Botswana Index of Electricity Generation (IEG) released last week.

The index shows that local electricity generation decreased by 148,243 MWH from 937,597 MWH during the second quarter of 2022 to 789,354 MWH during the third of quarter of 2022.

This decrease, according to the index, was mainly attributed to a decline in power supply realized at Morupule B power station. The index shows that as a result of low power supply from the plant, imported electricity during the third quarter of 2022 increased by 76.3 percent (123,831 MWH), from 162,340 MWH during the second quarter of 2022 to 286,171 MWH during the current quarter and Statistics Botswana added that the increase was necessitated by the need to augment the shortfall in generated electricity.

In the index Statistics Botswana stated that Eskom was the main source of imported electricity at 42.0 percent of total electricity imports. “The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) accounted for 38.4 percent, while the remaining 10.1, 9.1 and 0.5 percent were sourced from Electricidade de Mozambique (EDM), Cross-border electricity markets and the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation Limited (ZESCO), respectively. Cross-border electricity markets are arrangements whereby towns and villages along the border are supplied with electricity from neighbouring countries such as Namibia and Zambia.”

The government owned statistics entity stated that distributed electricity decreased by 2.2 percent (24,412 MWH), from 1,099,937 MWH during the second quarter of 2022 to 1,075,525 MWH during the third quarter of 2022. The entity noted that electricity generated locally contributed 73.4 percent to electricity distributed during the third quarter of 2022, compared to a contribution of 85.2 percent during the third quarter in 2022 and added that this gives a decline of 11.8 percentage points. “The quarter-on-quarter comparison shows that the contribution of electricity generated to electricity distributed decreased by 11.8 percentage points compared to the 85.2 percent contribution during the second quarter of 2022.”

Statistics Botswana meanwhile stated that the year-on-year analysis shows some improvement in local electricity generation. Recent figures from entity show that the physical volume of electricity generated increased by 36.3 percent (210,319 MWH), from 579, 036 MWH during the third quarter of 2021 to 789,354 MWH during the current quarter. According to Statistics Botswana electricity generated locally contributed 73.4 percent to electricity distributed during the third quarter of 2022, compared to a contribution of 57.7 percent during the same quarter in 2021. This gives an increase of 15.7 percentage points.

 

The entity noted that trends also show an increase in physical volume of electricity distributed from 2013 to the third quarter of 2022, thereby indicating that there are ongoing efforts to meet the domestic demand for power. “There has been a gradual increase of distributed electricity from the first quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2022, even though there are fluctuations. The year-on-year perspective shows that the amount of distributed electricity increased by 7.2 percent (71,787 MHW), from 1,003,738 MWH during the third quarter of 2021 to 1,075,525 MWH during the current quarter.”

The statistics entity noted that year-on-year analysis show that during the third quarter of 2022, the physical volume of imported electricity decreased by 32.6 percent (138,532 MWH), from 424,703 MWH during the third quarter of 2021 to 286,171 MWH during the third quarter of 2022. “There is a downward trend in the physical volume of imported electricity from the first quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2022. The downward trend indicates the country’s continued effort to generate adequate electricity to meet domestic demand, hence the decreased reliance on electricity imports.”

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