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Boko must pay P12 million to fly

After untidy skirmishes between the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) and the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) over the ‘illegal’ flying of aircrafts over Botswana skies by the leader of the main opposition party, the former has availed a checklist of temporary admission of aircraft into the Botswana skies to the party’s lawyers.

After two of the aircrafts he was using for electioneering were grounded by the BURS and his pilots interrogated and later fined P50 000 by the tax collector, UDC President Duma Boko has taken steps to distill the process. The aircrafts were landed to Boko by Waleed Helicopter Services (PTY) Ltd. Boko recently instructed the UDC, Bayford and Associates to ask for a requisite BURS checklist for purposes of temporary importation into Botswana of aircraft intended for use in election campaign.

Dick Bayford, the UDC lawyer held a meeting with BURS officials on the 8th of May 2019 attended by attorney, Aobakwe Monamo and BURS General Manager, Investigations, Compliance and Enforcement Department, Mr Kanone B Molapo. The purpose of the meeting was to push BURS officials to share a checklist with the UDC for purposes of temporarily importing aircraft for election campaign.

“We explained to your Mr Molapo that our clients are desirous of importing into the country on temporary basis a fixed wing aircraft and helicopter for election campaign purposes and none other. That upon expiry of the period of their use in Botswana, as would be advised in due course, same would be re-exported,” reads Bayford’ memo dated 9th May 2019 to BURS. Bayford further notes that “Mr Molapo has not availed us a templated checklist of the requirements sought, but has drawn our attention to relevant provisions in both the Customs Act, 2018 and the Value Added Tax Act which are applicable.”

For the avoidance of doubt and to distill a common understanding on the said provisions and the advice rendered by Mr Molapo, Bayford took liberty to share his interpretation of the two Acts in relation to temporary importation of aircrafts for purposes of an election campaign.
In terms of Section 184(1) BURS shall grant a temporary admission procedure where it is possible to ensure the identification of imported goods at the time of re-export. “In our respectful view, usage of the word “shall” denotes that once the condition precedent is met (ie assurance as to identification) it is mandatory upon BURS to grant a temporary admission procedure,” writes Bayford.

The UDC lawyer also notes that Mr Molapo had drawn their attention to section 185(1) of the Act which provides that BURS may clear goods for temporary admission without a standard customs declaration if it is satisfied that goods will be subsequently re-exported.
“Our instructions are that the aircraft intended for temporary admission would be subsequently re-exported. They will be kept at all material time, save when they are in use, at an officially designated customs airport in Botswana until exportation and by reason of this fact, their subsequent re-exportation is assured. Therefore we pray that they be exempted from standard customs declaration,” says Bayford.

When addressing Section 189 of the Act which deals with temporary admission with conditional relief, Bayford notes that the Customs Act, “means of transport” may be placed under temporary admission procedure with conditional relief of import duties and taxes. “As the above provision is not mandatory, but consider upon yourselves a discretion, Mr Molapo advised that clients could make a proposal on imposition of conditional relief of import duties and taxes.”

UDC, through its lawyers proposed that their aircrafts, as and when they arrive in Botswana, be placed under temporary admission procedure with conditional relief of import duties and taxes. “We respectfully submit that such an exercise of discretion would in the circumstances be apposite considering the fact that same are not to be used for any commercial purposes, but as a facility for advancing the democratic process of electioneering guaranteed under the national constitution,” explained Bayford in his letter to BURS.

Section 196 of the Customs Act indicates that the customs office may require that a means of transport for commercial use that is registered abroad be subject to a customs document and adequate guarantee. The UDC has pleaded with the BURS to apply its discretion as per the law and exempt from the provisions.

In itsv response BURS has noted that section 184 authorizes it to allows “a temporary admission procedure where it is possible to ensure the identification of imported goods at the time of re-export” or where “in view of the nature of the goods or nature of the operations to be carried out, the absence of identification measures is not likely to lead to abuse of the procedure.” The BURS through Mr Molapo notes that “BURS may clear goods for temporary admission without a standard customs declaration if it is satisfied that the goods will be subsequently re-exported.”  

Molapo further observes that if temporarily admitted goods are not the subject of a carnet, BURS may require the submission of a guarantee if it is satisfied that the goods will subsequently be re-exported. “Under section 189 (1) of the Act, goods, including means of transport “may be placed under the temporary admission procedure with conditional relief of import duties and taxes.” The essence of the provision is that there will be relief from, or suspension of, the otherwise chargeable duties/taxes on the affected goods/means of transport. However BURS is given latitude to impose such conditions as it deems fit to safeguard the suspended taxes. Such condition may be the guarantee requirement introduced by section 186 of the Act,” Molapo explained to UDC lawyers.

Molapo has advised UDC that they are required to submit a guarantee worth 12% of the market value of the aircraft and upon satisfying this condition the aircraft would be temporarily admitted for a period of not more than three months. “In case of conformance to all the stipulated condition, on exportation of the goods the undertaking for the payment of the otherwise payable taxes shall be discharged; in case of failure to export within the pre-stated timeframe or violation of any of the imposed conditions, then the hitherto suspended Value Added Tax (VAT) become payable, and reckoned from the date of first importation,” further explains Molapo.

The BURS General Manager also explained that the recipient of the services rendered by the owners of the aircraft (Waleed Helicopter Services Pty Ltd) should account for the VAT payable. On the full checklist, the UDC must provide a declaration concerning the aircraft; its itinerary; the goods onboard; any passengers and crew on board; the destination of such passengers’ crew and goods; and any stores on board; valuation of the aircraft. Finally the UDC must pay a temporary deposit equivalent to applicable duties and taxes.

So far Boko has used a 2017 Augusta A109SP which is valued at US$ 5 950 000 which translates to about P50 million of which 12% translates to P6 million. But depending on their age, other models could come at a bit lower prices of just under P20 million which would require the UDC to fork out about P2 million as guarantee to the BURS and further ensure that there is no violation of the preset conditions for the temporary admission of the aircraft or face penalties including paying all tax payable.

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Bangwato regent speaks ‘respect for Dikgosi’

23rd May 2022
Bangwato

Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.

Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.

Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.

One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution

Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.”  Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.

She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age.  Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.

Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.

Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.

For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.

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Parliament unveils major shake-up plans & reforms

23rd May 2022
Parliament

Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.

The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare.
Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.

According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned.  It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.

“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said.  Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.

The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.

The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.

The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.”  The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana.  It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.

“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.

Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.

“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversification of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly.  It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).

“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.

Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.

“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said.  The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.

The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.

“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

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Salbany, Bareetsi threaten to sue DIS

23rd May 2022
Salbany Bareetsi

Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.

After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.

They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.

“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.

They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”

They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.

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