The Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) is likely to lose P2.7 billion of tax arrears as individuals and companies have defaulted to pay since 2004.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Committee of Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprises this week, BURS Commissioner General, Keneilwe Morris explained that the debts owed by tax payers have accumulated over time hence the huge lump sum. “Tax arrears continue to be a major challenge for the revenue service. As at the end of financial year 2016/17, BURS had accumulated debt in excess of 2.7 billion pula in unpaid tax, interest and penalties as well as refer to drawers cheques,” he said.
He continued; “The critical thing is we have a long list some of the people have passed on, some of the companies are not in the company register the directors have either passed on or something. We doing all the efforts and we are in a process to enlist them at ITC.” As part of the concerted efforts to recover the monies, the revenue service has already instituted a debt management strategy to recover the debts which among other things include garnishee of taxpayer accounts, non-acceptance of cheques, ITC reporting, instalment plans and debit orders for owed tax.
Morris however indicated that the ministry agreed on an arrangement where BURS will forward on weekly basis requests for debt write-offs in accordance with the provisions of the tax statutes. The revenue collecting body has revealed that it is costly to collect arrears. “For the financial year 2016/17 BURS spent P614, 288 million to collect P35, 808 billion which translates into a costs collection ratio of P1.00/P58, 29.”
The organisation currently has 29 on-going cases in the courts. 20 of the cases are tax-related disputes routinely involving appeals by taxpayers against the tax assessments made by the commissioner General under the domestic-appeals processes enacted under the income tax act. The amount of tax in dispute on these cases approximates to P178 million.
GUMA TAKES SWIPE AT KHULACO
Guma has also blamed BURS for aiding and abetting possible crime by letting Khulaco PTY LTD to make suspicious transactions. “If an entity receive P230 million and it does not have trading license, do not pay tax and you are fully aware of what should be done then you are aiding crime,” Guma told Morris. Morris said it is a chance on his organisation to carry thorough investigation on the company. “We will do so sir and if we get officers who acted corruptly then action will be taken.”
Members of Parliament however stated that BURS needs to finally review their tax laws. “I want to believe that we are losing a lot of money, there is need to review to review your tax laws,” Moyo said. With this he was referring to entities like Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) who on annual basis make around P100 billion.
Further, companies that set up in Botswana and list somewhere is a cause of concern as the country is losing a huge some through this dealings. “We are still adding figures, I can’t really say how much we’ve lost by far but it is quite substantive,” responded Morris. He responded when asked how much the government has lost through this. He emphasised that they are currently reviewing their income tax law.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.