The Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVAF) keeps bleeding money out of its coffers to pay out for claims made by people who lost blood on Botswana roads. In the current financial year, for 2,934 claims, MVAF paid a whopping P100 million to claimants and service providers.
According to 2017 MVAF Annual Report which was released recently, 444 people lost their lives on Botswana roads last year, while those who were seriously injured were 1,152. The P100 million payments to claimants and service providers make 2,934 of the claims made and 63. 7 percent was paid for medicals. In 2016 the claims were higher than those of 2017 taking a whopping P112 million of the fund’s money.
Since 2013, payments to claims made to MVAF have been increasing together with the number of claimants. In 2016 fatalities were 450 and went down to 444 in 2017. Furthermore, MVAF has set aside close to P130 million for loss of support by those who perished or got injured on Botswana roads. For those who are doing medical undertakings, MVAF will pay around P35 million which was set aside last year. No one has ever been paid for loss of life according to the recently released annual report.
MVAF chairman Abraham Botes said: “As the target year draws near, we believe Botswana will have contributed towards the reduction of road traffic crashes and road traffic fatalities even though the country may not achieve the targeted reduction of 50% by year 2020. The Fund will continue to commit resources within its means, to address the respective pillars of the Decade of Action for Road Safety in order to meet its targets.”
MVAF, the universal compensation provider to people affected by road accidents, hence does not sell any products or services for a fee. In its latest annual report, MVAF recorded that total assets increased from P3.82 billion in 2016 to P3.83 billion in 2017 on the back of increases in non-current assets from P3.0 billion to P3.1 billion while current assets reduced from P808.7 million to P727.2 million.
Also, according to the Fund financial results, the reserves reduced from P2.7 billion in 2016 to P2.6 billion in 2017 while non-current liabilities increased from P794.6 million in 2016 to P999.9 million in 2017. Current liabilities on the other hand reduced from P313.0 million in 2016 to P247.2 million in 2017 according to the fund’s financials.
The revenue streams of the Fund are the fuel levy, third party cover, investment income and Government subvention. The fuel levy rate is 5 thebe per litre of petroleum product sold. The Fuel levy revenue comprises fuel levy charged to fuel importers into Botswana. This levy income is accounted for on an accrual basis and its rate is 5 thebe per litre. According to the latest financial results, the net fuel levy income increased by 3.6% from P50.1million in 2016 to P52.0 million in 2017.
According to MVAF CEO Micheal Tlhangwane, the Fund perpetually advocates for the increase of the fuel levy rate for years so that MVAF can increase its revenues. Tlhangwane said the Fund has, “engagement with government for the restoration of fuel levy to its previous rate of 9.5 thebe per litre are ongoing as the Fund now heavily relies investment income to meet the costs of claims and operating costs, which poses serious financial risks.”
Tlhagwane said the Fund will also initiate a limited legislative review to ensure that both the MVA Fund Act of 2007 and the MVA Fund Regulations of 2008 are relevant to the current operating environment geared towards improving administration of claims. When giving an economic performance on the 2017 annual report, MVAF chairman Botes said the local economy is yet to recover and this has a direct impact on the operations of the Fund.
He said most mines have closed due to depressed international prices of base metals which affected the local economy. According to Botes, most of the mines use fuel driven machinery for their operations and closure of these mines resulted in lower utilization of fuel, translating into lower fuel levy income.
MVAF also has another revenue source, Third Party Cover, which comprises of premiums charged on foreign registered vehicles which enter the country. The Third Party Cover decreased by P2 million from P10 million in 2016 to P8 million in 2017. MVAF’s former money spinner, the Investment Income source of revenue, has registered a huge decline of P78 million. In 2016 it was P94 million and it went down to P16 million in 2017, a drastic fall in a source of revenue.
The investment income comprises of the of the following: (a)Interest income which is recognised on a time proportion basis, taking account of the principal outstanding and the effective rate over the period to maturity, when it is determined that such income will accrue to the Fund. (b)Dividends are recognised when the right to receive payment is established. These relate to investments in local and offshore investments.
Lastly, the other part of Investment income is (c) rental income revenue includes gross rental income, service charges and management charges from properties and income from property trading. Rental income is accrued on a straight-line basis over the contractual periods as and when the Fund becomes entitled to the income.
MVAF chairman Botes has hinted that the drastic downflow of revenue coming from the Investment income challenges in the property sector. Botes said the property sector continues to experience challenges owing to oversupply of residential houses on account of difficult economic situation and the restructuring by major parastatals resulting in job losses and releasing of many houses into the rental market.
“The banking sector has also not performed well owing to reduction in the bank rate and difficult trading conditions. The bank rate closed the year at 5.0% following a cut by 50 basis points cut during the third quarter of 2017. Headline inflation was at 3.20% which was within the Bank of Botswana’s objective rate of 3% – 6%. The Fund was affected negatively by unrealized foreign exchange losses on offshore investments as the Botswana Pula continued to strengthen against the United States Dollar,” said Botes.
According to Botes, the Board will, in 2018 review its governance documents and develop tools to enable Board performance evaluations. He said MVAF continues to work closely with Public Enterprises, Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA) to develop the relevant Corporate Governance Frameworks to remain up to date with best practices.
“The Fund remains optimistic that the economic conditions will improve. We commit to do all possible within our means, to reverse our current financial deficits, and re-build the strength of our financial reserves. We will continue to engage Government for the possible reinstatement of the fuel levy rate to 9.5 thebe per litre, to ensure the sustainability of the Fund,” said Botes.
Botes also said MVAF will also review its investment strategies to align with the prevailing market conditions and target better returns. He also said the provision of compensation, medical and rehabilitative assistance to our claimants will remain our priority.
The partnership between Debswana and Botswana Oil Limited (BOL) which was announced a fortnight ago will create under 100 direct jobs, and scores of job opportunities for citizens in the value chain activities.
In a major milestone, Debswana and BOL jointly announced that the fuel supply to Debswana, which was in the past serviced by foreign companies, will now be reserved for citizen companies. The total value of the project is P8 billion, spanning a period of five years.
“About 88 direct jobs will be created through the partnership. These include some jobs which will be transferred from the current supplier to the new partnership,” Matida Mmipi, Head of Stakeholder Relations at Botswana Oil, told BusinessPost.
“We believe this partnership will become a blueprint for other citizen initiatives, even in other sectors of the economy. Furthermore, this partnership has succeeded in unlocking opportunities that never existed for ordinary citizens who aspire to grow and do business with big companies like Debswana.”
Mmipi said through this partnership, BOL and Debswana intend to impact citizen owned companies in the fuel supply value chain that include transportation, supply, facilities maintenance, engineering, customs clearance, trucks stops and its support activities such as workshop / maintenance, tyre services, truck wash bays among others.
“The number of companies to be on-boarded will be determined by the economics at the time of engagement,” she said. BOL will play a facilitatory role of handholding and assisting emerging citizen-owned fuel supply and fuel transportation companies to supply Debswana’s Jwaneng and Orapa Letlhakane Damtshaa (OLDM) mines with diesel and petrol for their operations.
“BOL expects to increase citizen companies’ market share in the fuel supply and transportation industries, which have over the years been dominated by foreign-owned suppliers. Consequently, the agreement will also ensure security of supply for Debswana operations, which are a mainstay of the Botswana economy,” Mmipi said.
“Furthermore, BOL will, under this agreement, transfer skills to citizen suppliers and transporters during the contract period and ensure delivery of competent and skilled citizen suppliers and transport companies upon completion of the agreement.”
Mmipi said the capacitating by BOL is limited to providing citizen companies oil industry technical capability and capacity to deliver on the requirements of the contract, when asked on helping citizen companies to access funding.
“BOL’s mandate does not include financing citizen empowerment initiatives. Securing funding will remain the responsibility of the beneficiaries. This could be through government financing entities including CEDA or through commercial banks. Further to this, there are financial institutions that have already signed up to support the Debswana Citizen Economic Empowerment Programme (CEEP),” Mmipi indicated.
While BOL is established by government as company limited by guarantee, it will not benefit financially from the partnership with Debswana, as citizen empowerment in the petroleum value chain is core to BOL’s mandate.
“BOL does not pursue citizen facilitation for financial benefit, but rather we engage in citizen facilitation as a social aspect of our mandate. Citizen facilitation comes at a cost, but it is the right thing to do for the country to develop the oil and gas industry,” she said.
Mmipi said supplying fuel to Debswana comes with commercial benefits such as supply margins. These have traditionally been made outside the country when supply was done by multi-nationals for a period spanning over 50 years. With BOL anchoring supply for Debswana, this benefit will accrue locally, and BOL will be able to pay taxes and dividends to the shareholders in Botswana.
PwC Africa has presented the eighth edition of the VAT in Africa Guide – Africa re-emerging. This backdrop of renewal informs on the re-emergence of African economies and societies which have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this edition, which has been compiled by PwC Africa’s indirect tax experts, covers a total of 41 African countries. It is geared towards sharing insight with our clients based on the constantly changing tax environments that can have a significant impact on business operations.
Within Africa, governments continue to focus on expanding the tax net by improving revenue collection through efficient compliance systems and procedures. PwC Africa has observed that revenue authorities also continue to take a keen interest in indirect taxes as part of revenue mobilisation initiatives.
Maturing VAT system and upskilling SARS
“In South Africa, VAT is becoming more relevant as a revenue source for the government,” says Matthew Besanko, PwC South Africa’s Indirect Tax Leader. “Strides have been made to upskill South African Revenue Service (SARS) staff and identify VAT revenue leakages, particularly in respect of foreign suppliers of electronic services to people and businesses in South Africa.”
Broadening the tax base and digital economy
In the past year, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe saw updates to their VAT legislation, or introduced specific legislation targeting electronically supplied services (ESS), which is in line with the global trend of attempting to tax the digital economy. “The expectation is that Botswana will also introduce VAT legislation in due course, while the National Treasury in South Africa has also made mention of revising the rules to account for further developments in the digital economy,” Besanko says.
South Africa’s National Treasury has also drafted legislation with the intention to introduce a reverse charge on gold, which is expected to come into effect later in 2022. While in Zimbabwe, revenue authorities have introduced a tax on the export of raw medicinal cannabis ranging between 10% and 20%, which came into effect on 1 January 2021.
ESG and carbon tax
Key strides have also been made within the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) space. “ESG leadership, strategising and reporting is essential now for organisations that wish to flourish and remain relevant,” Kabochi says. He adds that companies need to consider how ESG and tax intersect, since tax is a significant value driver when businesses need to deliver on their ESG goals.
In South Africa, a carbon tax regime, which is being implemented in three phases, has been adopted. The second phase was scheduled to start in January 2023, however phase one was extended by three years until 31 December 2025.
Until then, taxpayers will enjoy substantial tax-free allowances which reduce their carbon tax liability. At the beginning of 2022, the South African government increased the carbon tax rate to R144 (about US$9), which is expected to increase annually to enable South Africa to uphold its COP26 commitments.
With effect from 1 January 2023, carbon tax payers in South Africa will also be required to submit carbon budgets and adhere to the provisions of the carbon budgeting system which will be governed by the Climate Change Bill. Where set carbon budgets are exceeded, the government plans to impose penalties. “At PwC, we are continuously focused on our renewed global strategy, ” The New Equation,” Kabochi says. “Through this strategy, a key focus area for PwC Africa is to support clients in adding value to their ESG ambitions and building trust through sustained outcomes.”
The New Equation is also an acknowledgement of the fundamental changes in the business environment in which PwC’s clients and other stakeholders operate. PwC continues to reinvent and adapt to these changes as a community of problem solvers, combining knowledge and human-led technology to deliver quality services and value.
Local and international economists have lowered their projections on Botswana’s economic growth for 2022 and 2023, saying the country is highly likely to fail to maintain high growth rate recorded in 2021 hence will not reach initial forecasts.
Economists this week lowered 2022 forecasts for Botswana’s economic growth rate, from the initial 5.3% to 4.8% and added that in 2023 growth could further decline to 4.0%. The lower projections come on the backdrop of an annual economic growth that recovered sharply in 2021 with figures showing that year-on-year real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth increased to 11.4%, up from a contraction of 8.7% in 2020.
Economists from the local research entity, E-consult, this week stated that the 2021 double digit growth that exceeded projections made at the time of the 2022 budget may be short lived due to other developments taking place in the global economy. E-consult Economist Sethunya Kegakgametse stated that the war in Ukraine has worsened supply problems in the global economy and added that before the war, macroeconomic indicators were seen as improving and returning to pre-COVID levels.
According to the economist the global economy was projected to improve in 2022 and 2023. Recent figures show that global growth projections have been revised downwards from the initial forecast of 4.9% in 2022 with the World Bank’s new estimate for global growth in 2022 at 3.2%.
The statistics also shows that International Monetary Fund revised their growth projections for 2022 and 2023 down by 0.8% and 0.2% respectively, falling to 3.6% for both years. “The outbreak of war has severely dampened the global recovery that was under way following the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the economist.
She stated that despite Botswana being geographically removed from the conflict, the country has not and will not be exempt from the disruptions in the global economy. “The disruptions to global supply chains resulting from the war will have a negative effect on both Botswana’s growth and trade activities.
The economic sanctions against diamonds from Russia will add uncertainty to the market which will have knock on effects to Botswana’s growth, exports, and government revenues,” said the economists who added that the disruptions are driving prices up and result with very high inflation in the local economy.
Kegakgametse projected that in an attempt to limit inflation Bank of Botswana will be forced to raise interest rate “Should the sharp increase in both global and local inflation persist, Bank of Botswana much like other central banks around the world will be forced to raise interest rates in a bid to control rising prices. This would mean an end to the expansionary monetary policy stance that had been adopted post COVID-19 to aid economic growth,” she said.
In the latest projections, the UK based economic research entity Fitch Solutions lowered 2022 real GDP growth forecast for Botswana from 5.3% to 4.8% “In 2023, we see economic growth rate decelerating to 4.0%,” said Fitch Solutions economists who also noted that the 2022 and 2023 economic growth projections may come out lower than the current forecasts, as it is possible that new vaccine-resistant virus variants may be identified, which could result in the re-implementation of restrictions. “In such circumstances, we cannot rule out that Botswana’s economy may post weaker growth than our baseline scenario currently assumes,” said the economists.
According to the projections, Fitch Solution stated that there is limited scope for Botswana government to increase diamond production and exports, following the economic sanctions imposed on Russian diamond mining companies operating in Botswana. The research entity added that De Beers is unlikely to scale up diamond output from Botswana in order to prop up diamond prices.