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Why consumers may not benefit from tax relief

Traders could hike prices of affected products

The recent changes on the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act come as good news to the consumer as the zero-rating of basic foodstuffs is expected to make the goods more affordable as the 12% VAT component charged by suppliers has been done away with.


Good news as it may seem Tax experts are of the view that the benefits may not cascade down to the ordinary consumer due to a number of factors.


The zero rating of items is a mechanism by which any VAT included in the cost of an item can be removed to make it more affordable for the consumer. This is achieved by the seller levying VAT on the sales price at the rate of zero per cent, but the seller may claim any VAT incurred on the acquisition or manufacture of the product and related overhead costs as an input tax deduction.


Presenting the national budget last year, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo said the objective of amending the VAT Act is to allow the intake of balanced meals for families.


With this new amendment a loaf of bread that was costing P9.00 should now cost P8.04.


The food stuff that have been zero-rated from VAT include Brown bread, Fresh vegetables (in natural state), Fresh fruits (in natural state), Rice (husked, milled, polished, glazed, parboiled or broken), Samp (not further prepared/ processed), Milk (cattle, sheep or goat milk not concentrated, condensed, evaporated ,sweetened, flavoured or cultured),Bread flour (white, brown or whole wheat).


Similarly, all businesses that are registered but have an annual turnover of less than P1, 000,000 should arrange with BURS for the necessary deregistration in compliance with the new amendments.


Tax experts have welcomed the amendment saying they make basic foodstuffs more affordable and this will also make VAT administration easier as the number of VAT registrants will decrease, allowing BURS to strategically channel its resources. However they highlighted that these benefits may likely not reach the consumer due to other factors.


Max Marinelli the Country Managing Partner with Deloitte & Touche  welcomed this move by the government saying the VAT  amendment brings Botswana into line with other countries that zero-rate VAT on basic foodstuffs.


“The zero rating of basic food stuffs is good news to the consumer however he said what’s more worrisome is that, apparently the milling companies have put their prices up plus the recent devaluation of the Pula may negate this benefit,” said Marinelli.


Matambo recently changed the weights in the Pula basket to 50 percent South African rand and 50 percent IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR). The basket previously comprised 55 percent rand and 45 percent SDR. For 2015, the rate of crawl of the Pula against the basket will be zero.


Tax Manager with BDO an Accounting and Tax Advisory firm Watson Masikati said generally, the spirit behind the amendments is good however the benefit to the consumer is a debatable issue because other factors may come into pay.


“It remains to be seen though if the business people’s behavior will be in line with the intention behind these changes. Like in this case retailers can simply take away the benefit from ordinary consumers by increasing the prices of the affected products then they pocket the profit,” said Masikati.


 Furthermore, he said there is definitely a time lag between effective date of the law which is 23 January 2015 and practical implementation especially with these changes which are so immediate it’s not guaranteed that the benefits will filter to the consumer.


He added that the timing of the effective date of these changes is a headache to business people because they were not given enough time to change their systems in compliance with the amendments.


 “Some companies have sub-contracted maintenance of their systems to third parties who need time to appreciate the products affected and some of these systems people are not in Botswana which further complicates the implementation of the changes,” he said.


 Masikati also noted that there is a downside of deregistration though for those who may want to. He said the VAT that an unregistered vendor pays on the goods she sells becomes a cost to him/her because he got nowhere to claim the VAT charged by his/her suppliers. 

“Practically it follows that such a vendor upon de-registering their merchandise become more expensive compared to registered vendors who claim the VAT charged by suppliers against VAT they charge their customers,” said Masikati.


Generally, revenue to the government will definitely be reduced because consumers are no longer contributing the 12% VAT on these goods which have been zero-rated.


 “The biggest question though is to what extend does the government lose revenue which is difficult to quantify. We wait to see if there will be no unfavorable tax proposals when the Minister makes his budget speech in a few weeks hopefully,” said Masikati.


 The experts say from BURS side the increase in VAT registration thresholds will definitely reduce the burden of chasing after small enterprises whose contribution to the national revenue is small as such they can focus on major contributors.

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NAMDEB extends life of mine for land operations by up to 20 years

19th October 2021

Joint venture between De Beers and Government of Republic of Namibia announces new plan, supporting economic, commercial, employment and community benefit, following receipt of royalty relief Namdeb Diamond Corporation (Proprietary) Limited (‘Namdeb’), a 50:50 joint venture between De Beers Group and the Government of the Republic of Namibia, today announced the approval of a new long-term business plan that will extend the current life of mine for Namibia’s land-based operations as far as 2042.

Under the previous business plan, the land-based Namdeb operations would have come to the end of their life at the end of 2022 due to unsustainable economics. However, a series of positive engagements between the Namdeb management team and the Government of the Republic of Namibia has enabled the creation of a mutually beneficial new business plan that extends the life of mine by up to 20 years, delivering positive outcomes for the Namibian economy, the Namdeb business, employees, community partners and the wider diamond industry.

As part of the plan, the Government of the Republic of Namibia has offered Namdeb royalty relief from 2021 to 2025, with the royalty rate during this period reducing from 10% to 5%. This royalty relief has in turn underpinned an economically sustainable future for Namdeb via a life of mine extension that, through the additional taxes, dividends and royalties from the extended life of mine, is forecast to generate an additional fiscal contribution for Namibia of approximately N$40 billion. Meanwhile, the life of mine extension will also deliver ongoing employment for Namdeb’s existing employees, the creation of 600 additional jobs, ongoing benefits for community partners and approximately eight million carats of additional high value production.

Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “Namdeb, a shining example of partnership, has a proud and unique place in Namibia’s economic history. This new business plan, forged by Namdeb management and enabled by the willingness of Government to find a solution in the best interest of Namibia, means that Namdeb’s future is now secure and the company is positioned to continue making a significant contribution to the Namibian economy, the socio-economic development of the Oranjemund community and the lives of Namdeb employees.” Hon. Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy for the Government of the Republic of Namibia, said: “Mining remains the backbone of our economy and is one of the largest employment sectors within our country.

Government understood the fundamental impact of what the Namdeb mine closure at the end of 2022 would have had on Namibia. Therefore, it was imperative to safeguard this operation for the benefit of sustaining the life of mine for both the national economy as well as preserving employment for our people and the livelihoods of families that depend on it.”

Riaan Burger, CEO, Namdeb Diamond Corporation, said: “After more than a century of production, these operations were approaching the end of their life, but the creation of this new business plan means we can continue to deliver for Namibia for many years into the future. This is great news for the hardworking women and men of Namdeb, as well as for all our community partners who we are proud to have worked with over the years. We now look forward to starting a new chapter in Namdeb’s proud history.”

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Botswana records first trade surplus since January

7th October 2021
Botswana-records-first-trade-surplus-

Botswana has recorded its first trade surplus for 2021 since the only one for the year in January.

The country’s exports for the month of July surpassed the value of imports, Statistics Botswana’s July International Merchandise Trade data reveals.

Released last Friday, the monthly trade digest reports a positive jump in the trade balance graph against the backdrop of a series of trade deficits in the preceding months since January this year.

According to the country’s significant data body, imports for the month were valued at P7.232 billion, reflecting a decline of 6.6 percent from the revised June 2021 value of P7.739 billion.

Total exports during the same month amounted to P7.605 billion, showing an increase of 6.1 percent over the revised June 2021 value of P7.170 billion.

A trade surplus of P373.2 million was recorded in July 2021. This follows a revised trade deficit of P568.7 million for June 2021.

For the total exports value of P7.605 billion, the Diamonds group accounted for 91.2 percent (P6.936 billion), followed by Machinery & Electrical Equipment and Salt & Soda Ash with 2.2 percent (P169.7 million) and 1.3 percent (P100.9 million) respectively.

Asia was the leading destination for Botswana exports, receiving 65.2 percent (P4.96 billion) of total exports during July 2021.

These exports mostly went to the UAE and India, having received 26.3 percent (P1. 99 billion) and 18.7 percent (P1.422 billion) of total exports, respectively. The top most exported commodity to the regional block was Diamonds.

Exports destined to the European Union amounted to P1.64 billion, accounting for 21.6 percent of total exports.

Belgium received almost all exports destined to the regional union, acquiring 21.5 percent (P1.6337 billion) of total exports during the reporting period.

The Diamonds group was the leading commodity group exported to the EU. The SACU region received exports valued at P790.7 million, representing 10.4 percent of total exports.

Diamonds and Salt & Soda Ash commodity groups accounted for 37.8 percent (P298.6 million) and 6.2 percent (P48.7 million) of total exports to the customs union.

South Africa received 9.8 percent (P745.0 million) of total exports during the month under review. The Diamonds group contributed 39.9 percent (P297.4 million) to all goods destined for the country.

 

In terms of imports, the SACU region contributed 62.7 percent (P4.534 billion) to total imports during July.

The topmost imported commodity groups from the SACU region were Fuel; Food, Beverages & Tobacco, and Machinery & Electrical Equipment with contributions of 33.3 percent (P1.510 billion), 17.4 percent (P789.4 million) and 12.7 percent (P576.7 million) to total imports from the region, respectively.

South Africa contributed 60.1 percent (P4.3497 billion) to total imports during July 2021.

Fuel accounted for 32.1 percent (P1.394 billion) of imports from that country. Food, Beverages & Tobacco contributed 17.7 percent (P772.0 million) to imports from South Africa.

Namibia contributed 2.0 percent (P141.1 million) to the overall imports during the period under review. Fuel was the main commodity imported from that country at 82.1 percent (P115.8 million).

During the months, imports representing 63.5 percent (P4.5904 billion) were transported into the country by Road.

Transportation of imports by Rail and Air accounted for 22.7 percent (P1.645 billion) and 13.8 percent (P996.2 million), respectively.

During the month, goods exported by Air amounted to P6, 999.2 million, accounting for 92.0 percent of total exports, while those leaving the country by Road were valued at P594.2 million (7.8 percent).

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Business

The 2021/2022 Stanford Seed Transformation Program Begins

7th October 2021

Founders from twenty companies have been accepted into the program from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa

The 4th Cohort of the Stanford Seed Transformation Program – Southern Africa (STP), a collaboration between Stanford Graduate School of Business and De Beers Group commenced classes on 20 September 2021. According to Otsile Mabeo, Vice President Corporate Affairs, De Beers Global Sightholder Sales: “We are excited to confirm that 20 companies have been accepted into the 4th Seed Transformation Programme from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. The STP is an important part of the De Beers Group Building Forever sustainability strategy and demonstrates our commitment to the ‘Partnering for Thriving Communities’ pillar that aims at enhancing enterprise development in countries where we operate in the Southern African region”. Jeffrey Prickett, Global Director of Stanford Seed: “Business owners and their key management team members undertake a 12-month intensive leadership program that includes sessions on strategy and finance, business ethics, and design thinking, all taught by world-renowned Stanford faculty and local business practitioners. The program is exclusively for business owners and teams of for-profit companies or for-profit social enterprises with annual company revenues of US$300,000 – US$15million.” The programme will be delivered fully virtually to comply with COVID 19 protocols. Out of the 20 companies, 6 are from Botswana, 1 Namibia, and 13 South Africa. Since the partnership’s inception, De Beers Group and Stanford Seed have supported 74 companies, 89 founders/CEOs, and approximately 750 senior-level managers to undertake the program in Southern Africa.

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