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Friday, 19 April 2024

Tax havens ravage Botswana, continent

Business

BURS to tap into Tax Inspectors Without Borders

 

Botswana could soon benefit from better tax collection and audits, with the assistance of a new initiative from a OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and United Nations Development Programme dubbed Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB).


An initiative launched by the OECD to capacitate tax audits and collect more taxes, in developing countries, will soon cascade to Botswana tax system. Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) told BusinessPost that through membership of the African Tax Administrators Forum (ATAF), the initiative will reach Botswana and her tax authorities.


Gaitsiwe Motsewabagale, ‎General Manager – Corporate Planning and Communications at BURS, said that while the tax collector was not part of the proceedings at Ethiopia this week, the initiative would possibly reach the country through engagements at ATAF.


TIWB will facilitate targeted tax audit assistance in developing countries worldwide. Tax audit experts will work alongside local officials of developing country tax administrations to help strengthen tax audit capacities, including issues concerning international tax matters, using a toolkit that sets out guidelines for establishing TIWB programmes and protecting against potential confidentiality and conflict of interest concerns.


“Going forward, a dedicated central organising unit, the TIWB Secretariat, supported by an oversight board of stakeholders, will operate as a clearing house to match the demand for auditing assistance with appropriate expertise. The Secretariat, composed of OECD and UNDP staff and based at the OECD in Paris, will facilitate full-time or periodic deployment of experts,” said OECD secretary general at the launch.


A number of pilot projects and international tax workshops are already underway, including in Albania, Ghana and Senegal. Evidence gathered from real time cases in Colombia indicate a significant increase in tax revenue, from US$3.3 million in 2011 to US$33.2 million in 2014, directly attributable to tax audit advice and guidance.


The latest annual report of the local tax authority, being the 2013 Report, states among its operational challenges, that: “There was an insufficient number of taxpayer auditors to perform adequate audits.”


Revenue collected grew by P5.5 billion (22.6 percent), from P24.37 billion in 2011/12 to P29.87 billion in 2012/13. However this growth is attributable to a massive 69 percent increase in revenues from SACU jump in SACU receipts and a 17.4 percent increase in VAT collection, while income tax actually declined by 9.7 percent.


The Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) project was launched on Monday this week at the Ethiopian meeting, of the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa.


TIWB will facilitate targeted tax audit assistance in developing countries worldwide. Tax audit experts will work alongside local officials of developing country tax administrations to help strengthen tax audit capacities, including issues concerning international tax matters.


A number of pilot projects and international tax workshops are reported to be already underway, in among others, Albania, Ghana and Senegal, providing proof of the effectiveness of the programme.

The scaling up to other others will be rolled out with the help of the UNDP “Evidence gathered from real time cases in Colombia indicate a significant increase in tax revenue, from US$3.3 million in 2011 to US$33.2 million in 2014, thanks to tax audit advice and guidance,” read a statement from OECD.


“The challenges faced by developing countries are being acknowledged internationally and we are delighted to mobilise the best experts worldwide in a practical contribution to domestic resource mobilisation,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said during a launch event in Addis Ababa.

“The new partnership between the OECD and UNDP on Tax Inspectors Without Borders will significantly extend the global reach of existing efforts to build audit capacity while sending a strong message of international support to developing countries.”


 "Effective domestic resource mobilisation is at the core of financing for sustainable development. But efforts to raise domestic resources are often constrained by tax evasion and avoidance, and by illicit financial flows,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.


“The Tax Inspectors Without Borders programme is an innovative and practical way of supporting developing countries to mobilise more domestic resources for development. With its country level presence and local knowledge, UNDP is well-placed to partner with the OECD and the best audit experts to scale-up this important work. TIWB can support countries to realise the post-2015 agenda," Helen Clark said.


However, there is some controversy with regard to some of members of the OECD, comprising 34 rich states, also being classified as tax havens. However, the OECD says members have made efforts to shed the characteristics of such tax havens.

BOTSWANA’S TAX LOSSES

According to studies done and reported by international financial intelligence organ, Global Financial Integrity, Botswana has lost an average of P8,5 billion ($856 million) annually, between 2003 and 2012, however with a market spike in the ‘recession years’ 2007, 2008 and 2009,  illicit financial outflows.

The outflows are characterised by tax evasion, trade misinvoicing in goods transactions, transfer mispricing in services and hot money flows to jurisdictions with higher interest rates or expected changes in interest rates.


This is happening in the context of Africa, as a continent, losing over $60 billion annually from illicit financial activity.


In analysing illicit financial flows (IFFs), GFI utilises sources of data and analytical methodologies that have been used by international institutions, governments, and economists for decades; the data sources and methodologies are providing information on gaps in balance of payments data and gaps in trade data.

Where recorded sources and uses of funds in balance of payments data do not match, the difference is net errors and omissions, indicating an inflow or outflow that was not recorded. Where bilateral trade data does not match – after adjusting for freight and insurance in the data of the importing country – this indicates re-invoicing of transactions between export from one country and import into another country.


Offshore tax havens spread by new computing and telecommunications, provide an unprecedented tax shelter, enabling rich citizens and corporations to escape the national tax system. Wealthy tax evaders save millions, while public services and infrastructure in their home countries, as well as on the small island havens, remain drastically underfunded.


Botswana, herself, has only recently shed its tax haven tag after easing provisions and making amendments. At the time of the OECD report to the G20 in June 2012, Botswana was among the 11 jurisdictions also comprising Brunei, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Lebanon, Liberia, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and Vanuatu, who could not move to Phase 2 because it was determined at the time of their Phase 1 reviews that critical elements necessary to achieving an effective exchange of information were not in place in their legal framework.

At the same G20 Summit, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, called for Botswana, alongside eleven other countries, to be excluded from the international business community because the country was a tax haven that did not have a "suitable legal framework for the exchange of tax information.”


Parliament approved the amendment of the Income Tax Act in December 2012 to allow the Botswana Unified Revenue Service to exchange information for tax purposes. Additionally, the amendment of the Banking Act was presented in Parliament last year for approval. This amendment was meant to repeal strict banking secrecy provisions and to allow for banking information to be provided for the purpose of exchanging information with treaty partners.

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Business

LLR transforms from Company to Group reporting

9th April 2024

Botswana Stock Exchange listed diversified real estate company, Letlole La Rona Limited (“LLR” or “the Company” or “the Group”), posted its first set of group financial statements which comprise the Company and Group consolidated accounts, which show strong financial performance for the six months ended 31 December 2023, with improvements across all key metrics.

The Company commenced the financial year with the appointment of a Deputy Chairperson, Mr Mooketsi Maphane, in order to bolster its governance and enhance leadership continuity through the development of a Board and Executive Management Succession Plan.

At operational level, LLR increased its shareholding in Railpark Mall from 32.79% to 57.79% and proudly took over the management of this prime asset.

The CEO of LLR, Ms Kamogelo Mowaneng commented “During the period under review, our portfolio continued to perform strongly, with improvements across all key metrics as a result of our ongoing focus on portfolio growth and optimisation.

“We are pleased to report a successful first half of the 2024 financial year, where we managed to not only grow the portfolio through strategic acquisitions and value accretive refurbishments but also recycled capital through the disposal of Moedi House as well as the ongoing sale of section titles at Red Square Apartments. The acquisition of an additional 25% stake in JTTM Properties significantly uplifted the value of our investment portfolio to P2.0 billion at a Group level. Our investment portfolio was further differentiated by the quality of our tenant base, as demonstrated by above market occupancy levels of 99.15% and strong collections of above 100% for the period”.

The growth in contractual revenue of 9% from the prior year’s P48.0 million to the current year P52.2 million, increased income from Railpark Mall, coupled with high collection rates, has enabled the company to declare a distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit, which is in line with the prior year.

 

In line with its strategic pillars of ‘Streamlined and Expanded Botswana Portfolio’ as well as ‘Quality African Assets’, the Group continuously monitors the performance of its investments to ensure that they meet the targeted returns.

“The Group continues to explore yield accretive opportunities for balance sheet growth and funding options that can be deployed to finance that growth” further commented the CEO of LLR Ms Kamogelo Mowaneng.

Ms Mowaneng further thanked the Group’s stakeholders for their continued support and stated that they look forward to unlocking further value in the Group.

 

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Business

Botswana’s Electricity Generation Dips 26.4%

9th April 2024

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has reported a significant decrease in electricity generation for the fourth quarter of 2023, with output plummeting by 26.4%. This decline is primarily attributed to operational difficulties at the Morupule B power plant, as per the latest Botswana Index of Electricity Generation (IEG) released recently.

Local electricity production saw a drastic reduction, falling from 889,535 MWH in the third quarter of 2023 to 654,312 MWH in the period under review. This substantial decrease is largely due to the operational challenges at the Morupule B power plant. Consequently, the need for imported electricity surged by 35.6% (136,243 MWH) from 382,426 MWH in the third quarter to 518,669 MWH in the fourth quarter. This increase was necessitated by the need to compensate for the shortfall in locally generated electricity.

Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation Limited (ZESCO) was the principal supplier of imported electricity, accounting for 43.1% of total electricity imports during the fourth quarter of 2023. Eskom followed with 21.8%, while the remaining 12.1, 10.3, 8.6, and 4.2% were sourced from Electricidade de Mozambique (EDM), Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), Nampower, and Cross-border electricity markets, respectively. Cross-border electricity markets involve the supply of electricity to towns and villages along the border from neighboring countries such as Namibia and Zambia.

Distributed electricity exhibited a decrease of 7.8% (98,980 MWH), dropping from 1,271,961 MWH in the third quarter of 2023 to 1,172,981 MWH in the review quarter.

Electricity generated locally contributed 55.8% to the electricity distributed during the fourth quarter of 2023, a decrease from the 74.5% contribution in the same quarter of the previous year. This signifies a decrease of 18.7 percentage points. The quarter-on-quarter comparison shows that the contribution of locally generated electricity to the distributed electricity fell by 14.2 percentage points, from 69.9% in the third quarter of 2023 to 55.8% in the fourth quarter. The Morupule A and B power stations accounted for 90.4% of the electricity generated during the fourth quarter of 2023, while Matshelagabedi and Orapa emergency power plants contributed the remaining 5.9 and 3.7% respectively.

The year-on-year analysis reveals some improvement in local electricity generation. The year-on-year perspective shows that the amount of distributed electricity increased by 8.2% (88,781 MWH), from 1,084,200 MWH in the fourth quarter of 2022 to 1,172,981 MWH in the current quarter. The trend of the Index of Electricity Generation from the first quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2023 indicates an improvement in local electricity generation, despite fluctuations.

The year-on-year analysis also reveals a downward trend in the physical volume of imported electricity. The trend in the physical volume of imported electricity from the first quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2023 shows a downward trend, indicating the country’s continued effort to generate adequate electricity to meet domestic demand, has led to the decreased reliance on electricity imports.

In response to the need to increase local generation and reduce power imports, the government has initiated a new National Energy Policy. This policy is aimed at guiding the management and development of Botswana’s energy sector and encouraging investment in new and renewable energy. In the policy document, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Lefoko Moagi stated that the policy aims to transform Botswana from being a net energy importer to a self-sufficient nation with surplus energy for export into the region. Moagi expressed confidence that Botswana has the potential to achieve self-sufficiency in electric power supply, given the country’s readily available energy resources such as coal and renewable sources.

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Business

MMG acquires Khoemacau in a transaction valued at P23Bn

9th April 2024

MMG Limited, the Hong Kong-based mining company specializing in base metals, has successfully concluded the acquisition of Khoemacau Copper Mine, a state-of-the-art, world-class copper asset nestled in the northwest of Botswana.

On Monday, MMG announced that the acquisition of Khoemacau Mine in Botswana was finalized on 22nd March 2024. “This acquisition enriches the company’s portfolio with a top-tier, transformative growth project and signifies a monumental milestone in the Company’s journey,” MMG communicated in an official statement published on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Upon completion of the acquisition, MMG remitted to the Sellers an Aggregate Consideration of approximately US$1,734,657,000 (over P23 billion), a sum subject to potential adjustments post-Completion.

In addition to the Aggregate Consideration, MMG, in accordance with the Agreement, advanced an aggregate amount of approximately US$348,580,000 (over P4.5 billion) as the Aggregate Debt Settlement Amount, to settle certain debt balances of the Target Group (Cuprous Capital/Khoemacau).

On November 21, 2023, Khoemacau announced that the shareholders of its parent company [Cuprous Capital] had agreed to sell 100% of their interests to MMG Limited.

MMG is a global resources company that mines, explores, and develops copper and other base metals projects on four continents. The company is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, and has a significant shareholder, China Minmetals Corporation, which is China’s largest metals and minerals group owned by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

On December 22, 2023, Khoemacau Copper Mining (Pty) Ltd received the approval from the Minister of Minerals and Energy of Botswana regarding the transfer of a controlling interest in the Project Licenses and Prospecting Licenses associated with the Khoemacau Copper Mine, a result of the Acquisition.

 

The Botswana Competition & Consumer Authority (CCA) on January 29, 2024, notified the market that it had given its approval for the takeover of Khoemacau Copper Mining by MMG Limited.

On January 29, 2024, the CCA issued a merger decision to the market, stating that after conducting all necessary assessments, it was ready to proceed.

The Competition Authority affirmed that the structure of the relevant market would not significantly change upon implementation of the proposed merger as the proposed transaction is not likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition, nor endanger the continuity of service in the market of mining of copper and silver ores and the production, and sale or supply of copper concentrate in Botswana.

Furthermore, the CCA stated that the proposed merger would not have any negative impact on public interest matters in Botswana as per the provisions of section 52(2) of the Competition Act 2018.

Earlier this month, Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Maxwell Moagi, informed parliament that his Ministry was endorsing the Khoemacau acquisition by MMG Limited. He noted that not only was the company acquiring the existing operation but also committing to an expansion program that would cost over $700 million to double production, create more jobs for Batswana, and increase taxes and royalties paid to the Government.

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