The Income Tax Act Amendment that will come into effect in the 2020 tax year will limit the cost of assets that are acquired from non-resident connected persons to P0. Connected persons “means at least two companies where either of the companies has control directly or indirectly, of the other, or if both companies are controlled, directly or indirectly, by the same person or persons”.
It also means “any person (other than a company) if that person has control of a company or if the person or persons connected to that person together have control of the company”. The Act further states that control means where one has greater part of the share capital or voting rights in a company and is entitled to a greater part of the distributable income or assets of the company.
Assets used by the business in generating assessable income attract capital allowances in the range of 10% to 100%. For any business, the capital allowances claim ranges from 10% to 25% each tax year until the cost of the asset is fully exhausted, however mining and farming attract 100% deduction in the year of purchase for assets that are directly used in mining or farming. Capital allowances are an incentive provided by the Commissioner to taxpayers taking into consideration the wear and tear of assets used by the business.
This is referred to as tax depreciation in other tax jurisdictions. Tax authorities worldwide are of the view that assets acquired from non-residents are among methods used to erode tax bases as money goes out of the country without any tax liability arising on the side of the purchasers of the assets.
Therefore to counter this, the cost of assets that are purchased from non-resident connected persons will be deemed to be P0 for tax purposes unless an invoice from an independent third party is produced. This means that the capital allowances claim that businesses that have bought assets from non-resident connected persons could have claimed will be lost, resulting in a higher taxable income.
For e.g., where Mining Company A had bought a mining asset from its related party in South Africa at P1m and has Profit of P50m before capital allowances deductions, the taxable income will still remain at P50m where there is no invoice to show that the asset was first procured from a third party.
In a case where an invoice from an independent third party is produced, the taxable income shall be reduced by the cost of the asset and therefore become P49m. Assuming that the tax rate applicable will be 22%, this will result in a tax saving of P220, 000 and tax loss of the same amount if the purchaser does not provide invoice from an independent third party. This is part of efforts by the government to reduce transfer mispricing instances in the country. Taxpayers are encouraged to ensure that they have all the necessary documents to ensure their transactions are not reversed and they are left with huge tax bills in principal and interest.
Where acquisition of an asset directly from an independent third party is possible, taxpayers are encouraged to procure directly in order to mitigate any disputes or adjustments that may arise. The arm’s length rule will mostly likely still apply to assets even where an independent third party invoice is produced as the rule targets any transaction between connected persons.
In the event that a margin is charged by the non-resident connected person after acquisition from a third party, all necessary documentation in relation to the margin added should be fully documented. Justification of why the price charged by non-resident connected parties is at arm’s length should also be part of the documentation kept by the taxpayer.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”