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Botswana unmoved on tax incentives – Matambo

Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo has affirmed Botswana’s position on tax incentives saying Botswana will continue offering tax incentives in various arrangements across economic sectors as the country sees fit for its economic transformation agenda.

This is contrary to advice and calls by various international finance & economic institutions. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OEDC) has strongly spoken against Botswana’s tax exemptions and incentives. One of tax arrangements that Botswana is  strongly discouraged  of is the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) regime under which IFSC accredited and qualifying firms enjoy a 15% corporate tax rate while other companies face the normal 22 % tax.

The package encompasses amongst others conditional exemptions on Capital Gains Tax, Withholding Tax and other rates. Botswana adopted this predominantly to accelerate economic diversification by encouraging growth of the financial services sector. Local IFSC accredited firms include amongst others retail giant Choppies, Letshego Holdings, Motovac, as well as a number of capital and asset management firms. OEDC is of the view this arrangement does not output significant and desirable results but only cripples 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 OEDC. Botswana has been cited as one good example for such. The underlying concern by OEDC 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.

Botswana has been labelled by this organization and different countries as a tax haven with globally non-compliant tax regime and arrangements that only benefit the already rich and elite business people. The argument is that Botswana’s tax incentives were also contributing in increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. Statistically Botswana is one of the countries with high levels of wealth and inequality in the world.

However, Minister Matambo boldly stated on Tuesday when addressing the media that Botswana remains committed to attracting investment and growing the financial service centre through different arrangement of tax incentives. He said that government will continue to engage concerned parties to do away with the perception that Botswana was a tax haven.

“Here we were dealing with concerns expressed by others especially Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. The IFSC framework basically provides a lower level of tax to companies under the mandate of the IFSC. For us it is an incentive to grow the financial sector. The purpose of this lower level of tax is to provide an incentive but the OECD countries for their own reasons look at it differently, we disagreed with them that we are not a tax haven. We do tax companies that make an income in this country,” he said.

Matambo however said Botswana was open to reviewing and relooking its system but only when it sees fit. “On the other hand we had to listen to what they were saying and consider it and the extent to which we can make an adjustment to the framework where necessary,” he added. Early last year Botswana was heavily criticized and labelled by France, one of the world’s largest and influential economies as a tax haven, however Botswana reverted and strongly cleansed itself of the tag through different global statements.

It has been underscored that this tax incentives and exceptions were a window for exorbitant tax dodging, money laundering and illicit financial crimes, under this sentiments Botswana was accused of having a secretive tax system with tax haven jurisdictions that bleeds the country’s public funds. Botswana is reported to have lost over 80 billion pula in 10 years, from 2003- 2012 due to corporate tax dodging and money laundering, according to International Finance organization, Oxfam. This it was said is sometimes encouraged by arrangements such as tax exemptions.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also spoken against Botswana weak domestic fund mobilization vehicles. In its report released last month the IMF urged Botswana to reform its entire revenue collection system and framework. “It would be important to remove many tax exemptions, increase property taxation, and consider making the personal income tax more progressive.”

This recommendation by IMF and other organization opposes what Botswana is currently doing. In its investment wooing basket, tax exemption and incentives are underscored as key nectarines in attracting foreign capital to set up business in Botswana. IMF advised Botswana that tax was vital in boosting the country’s administrative, fiscal and institutional capacity adding that tax revenue was very essential for any developing country to function.

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The Bulb World starts operations in South Africa

8th April 2021

Homegrown LED light manufacturing company, The Bulb World, has kick started operations in South Africa, setting in motion the company’s ambitious continental expansion plans.

The Bulb World, which was partly funded by Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) at the tune of P4 million, to manufacture LED lighting bulbs for both commercial and residential use in 2017, announced last year that it will enter the South African market in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of North West province under the auspices of North West Development Corporation (NWDC).

The company has already secured a deal with South Africa authorities which entails production factory shells and tax incentives arrangements.

The company founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ketshephaone Jacob has also previously stated that the company is looking for just under P50 million to finance its expansion strategy and is reaching out to institutional investors such as Botswana Public Officers Pensioners Fund (BPOPF) and government investment arm, Botswana Development Corporation (BDC).

However, Jacob told WeekendPost that instead of sitting and waiting for expansion funding the company has started hitting the ground running.

“We have decided to get in the streets of SA, start selling lights from door to door, ” said Jacob who is in currently in Rusternburg to oversee the introduction of The Bulb World products in the market.

Jacob explained more brand activations will be undertaken in South Africa. “The plan is to do it the whole of North West and Limpopo province, through hawkers, we give the hawkers the lights to sell at a factory price and they put a mark up and make a living,” he said.

The Bulb World operates from Selibe Phikwe, it currently employees 65 young people, 80 % of which are Phikwe youth. The company plans to add 100 jobs this year alone as it forges ahead with its regional and continental expansion plans.

In July this year Bulb World products will hit South African Shelves:  Pick n Pay, Checkers and Africa’s largest retailer Shoprite.

The Bulb World has been registered as a company in South Africa; the company will start producing lights from Mogwasa after striking a special economic zones deal with North West Development Corporation in North West Province South Africa.

“Over the next 10 years we are looking to create over 5,000 jobs in Africa. Through our expansion into all of Africa we will be able to create employment for various individuals in different sectors namely; manufacturing, distribution electronics and retail,” Jacob told this publication earlier this year.

Jacob said if all goes well, the plan is to have taken over Africa or rather penetrated, and have prevalent presence in the African market.

“We are gunning to have at least 30 percent market share by then. According to a 2016 Market Survey, the total valuation of sales for LED Lighting was 57BN, a portion of which we plan to have taken over by then,” he said.

 

While the company has set its eyes on Africa, Jacob said, the company has not fully exploited its local growth, indicating that there could be strategic factories built to supply neighbouring countries of Angola and Zimbabwe.

“There is potential for further local expansion as well to other areas of Botswana if things run smoothly as anticipated. Hopefully in the long-term if our fellow Africans and all these markets receive us well we are planning to build another factory,” he said.

“We are looking to build another factory in the Chobe/Ngamiland Area that will give priority to markets in Zimbabwe and Angola,” he said

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‘Oil exploration will have minimal impact’

30th March 2021
Okavango-River-Basin

The Maun based Okavango Research Institute (ORI) has downplayed the impacts of oil and gas exploration in part of Okavango delta arguing that given the distance proposed the likelihoods of negative impacts drilling these exploration wells on the surface water systems is likely to be negligible.

The Institution released a position paper titled ‘Proposed Petroleum (Oil and Gas) Exploration Operations in the Petroleum Exploration License (PEL) No. 73,’ with findings stating that, in the event of discovery of economically viable hydrocarbon deposits, much more careful consideration of the impacts and economic benefits of development of the resource will be needed.

For example, the fracking process for gas and oil extraction is known to require large volumes of underground water.

It further argues that increased extraction of the underground water is likely to affect the water table level and further affect the overall water availability in the river-basin.

“The effect on water availability and use may become worse if surface water is reticulated or sourced by any means from the Kavango River. Should the exploration and fracking for oil and gas expand to Block 1720, 1721 and 1821, the impact on water availability and quality will be significant, especially if the wastewater is not well managed,” said the paper.

The research unit recommends close communication between the relevant Basin State Ministries (Mineral Resources, Environment) and the Permanent Commission on the Okavango River Basin, OKACOM, and other stakeholders must be facilitated.

This will facilitate sharing of the correct information on the desired intentions of the basin states and compromises sought for the sustainability of the ecosystems in the downstream of the Cubango-Okavango river Basin, states the position paper.

ORI as a key stakeholder with scientific information says it is positioned to provide scientific advice and guidance to decision-makers on the potential impacts of both exploration and development and operation activities.

It also recommends that while the impacts might be minimal at the exploration stage, environmental impacts during the development and extraction process are significant.

Findings also state that the SADC Protocol places a mandatory duty to make a notification of planned measures undertaken in any riparian state in cases where such measures hold the potential to cause ‘significant adverse effects.’

It further states that where the planned development is trivial and not expected to cause any significant harm, the development state is not under duty to notify other riparian states.

Given that the drilling in the Kavango Region in Nambia is merely for exploratory purpose and the possibility of harm is minor, it is therefore not surprising that the Namibian government did not inform Botswana.

However, should it be found that the oil can be profitably or economically exploited, the Namibian government would be under a duty to notify both Angola and Botswana.

The institution further states that to ensure sustainable development in the Okavango Delta the following in the context of exploration for and potential development of hydrocarbon deposits within the Cubango-Okavango River Basin, it must be considered that the Okavango Delta is a World Heritage Site listed in 2014 by UNESCO and one of the binding requirements of the listing is the non-permissible commercial mining of any mineral, gas or oil within the World Heritage Site.

It states that the Okavango Delta is also a RAMSAR site in which mining is not allowed.

Should the exploration for minerals, oil and gas be allowed, there is a high chance that a mineral, oil or gas may be found given that the Delta is sitting on karoo sediments and shale rocks which in other parts of the world have been found to be sources of oil and gas deposits. Should oil or gas be discovered, there will be a strong socio-economic pressure to mine oil or gas and create jobs for the masses.

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Business

Pakmaya yeast penetrates local market

30th March 2021
Pakmaya Africa Sales Manager: Cem Perdar

Manufactured in Turkey, Pakmaya Instant Dry Yeast can be used in the production of various fermented products, as it is suited for both traditional and industrial baking processes. All kinds of breads, buns and fermented pastry products are typical examples of applications.

Pakmaya Africa Sales Manager Cem Perdar says Pakmaya has 4 plants in across the world, further indicating that all of the plants have the highest standards of quality certificates and approvals. Regarding raw material, molasses is the main ingredient for yeast. Concerning production activities, yeast manufacturing requires high know-how and capability. Pakmaya has all those capabilities and aspects more than 45 years.

According to Perdar, Pakmaya has been existent in African markets since 30 years. From South to North, Central to East and West, a consumer can find Pakmaya in nearly every part of Africa continent.

“With its high quality, rich product selection and good service, our brand has become the favorite yeast of many Africans. On the other hand, our distributors in African countries are working very hardly and loyally in order to promote our products in their markets. After some time, we are becoming like families with our exclusive distributors in Africa and this enables both parts to work harder and keeps our product sustainable in market,” he said in an interview this week.

The yeast manufacturing giant made its way to Botswana market. The company has been smoothly working with Kamoso Distribution, a local distribution company. Perdar told BusinessPost that two entities have been working hard to earn is market locally.

“At the moment we have a good market share with them in Botswana market. I’m sure during 2021 long, we will be increasing our sales and market position. Soon we are going to start a marketing campaign in Botswana, so that means Batswana will see and recognize Pakmaya more and more. Pakmaya wants to be the best friend of bakers in bakeries and ladies at homes in Botswana.”

As per global COVID-19 regulations to curb the spread of the COVID-19, Botswana just like other country closed borders. Providentially, the restrictions did not affect the company destructively.

Perdar says “Kamoso Africa is a very important and strong partner in Botswana territory. With Kamoso’s hard work and strict measurements, we have done a very good job. So as Pakmaya, we have not suffered any distribution problem. Our partner is doing the needful at the reaching our products to end users.”

He further said “We are doing well in Botswana market and hoping to make much more. Our aim is to enter every single corner in Botswana territory. With our new marketing campaigns, we are planning to be the most preferred yeast in Botswana market.”

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