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BURS owed P3.3 billion in tax arrears

Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) is owed P3.3 billion from uncollected tax arrears, with interest and penalties accounting for majority of the arrears. According to BURS 2018 annual report, BURS is struggling to manage its debt by effectively and efficiently collecting the arrears to ensure the funds reach government coffers.  

The report is destined to be tabled by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr. Thapelo Matsheka at Parliament. “In spite of efforts to reduce the arrears through recoveries and remissions, the total outstanding arrears as at 31st March 2018 stood at P3, 287, 089, 207,” the report indicated. The current amount is an increase of 21 percent over the total outstanding as at 31st March 2017 which was P2.7 billion.  

The report noted that the collection of arrears as at 1st April 2017 comprised of P1, 4 billion and P1.2 billion being value Added tax (VAT) and Assessed Income Tax respectively. Collections of old arrears for the 2017/18 financial years were P288 million whilst discharges, remissions and waivers amounted to P392 million, the report highlighted adding that the uncollected arrears that accrued in the 2017/18 financial year stood at P1, 3 billion as at 31st March 2018.

“The outstanding balance indicates that the interest and penalties account for 66 percent of the arrears whilst the principal tax outstanding is 34 percent. The bulk of the arrears bare charges for late payment of tax and late filing of returns,” it states. The Annual Report acknowledged that there were still some number of challenges experienced which negatively impacted optimum service delivery.  

“The BURS strategy for e-services uptake still faces a challenge of not getting a good response from taxpayers despite the uptake strategy that was implemented from financial year 2016/17,” it said. It also pointed out that this is shown by the percentage uptake for filing of returns in 2017/18 which was below target for all categories of tax returns except for Large taxpayers ‘VAT returns.

The Annual report said that underperformance of VAT and increasing tax arrears were the two major sources of concern for the Revenue Service and served to reverse the gains that were being made with respect to the revenue mobilisation drive. “Because of these two major challenges the Revenue Service has decided to intensify its inspection on business operations through the Debt Management Unit to follow up tax arrears as well as to ascertain tax compliance statuses of companies,” the report highlights.

It is understood that taxpayer education workshops and publicity campaigns will continue to be carried out under the strategy for e-services uptake in order to address the challenges. Meanwhile, the report also observed that in the same period (during the 2017/18 financial year) 808 seizures were recorded compared to 579 in 2016/17.

“The North region recorded the highest number of seizures which stood at 562. The seized goods were mainly cigarettes, tobacco leaves, vehicles and parts, assorted clothing, medicaments, ornaments, fuel and containers, drums, kitchenware, stationery, substances suspected to be dagga, food items including Agricultural products, electronic appliances, alcohol beverages etc.” The main reason for seizing the goods, according to the report was due to non-declaration or ex-detentions or false declaration or transporting smuggled or illicit goods.  

In another matter, a total of 800 detentions were recorded during the financial year under review compared to 688 in the previous year. “North region recorded the highest number of detentions which stood at 561. The detained goods were mainly vehicles, various food items including Agricultural products, medicaments, clothing, beauty products, electric appliances, fuel, alcohol beverages, etc.,” it points out.  

Furthermore, it stresses that the main reason for detentions were either pending production of proper documents/permits or pending proper clearance or payment of taxes/penalties or re-exportation or investigation/valuation. In line with its mandate, BURS performs tax assessment and collection functions on behalf of the Government and take appropriate measures to counteract tax evasion on the one hand, and to improve taxpayer service to a much higher level on the other.

The Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) was established by an Act of Parliament in 2004, the Botswana Unified Revenue Service Act of 2003 and came into operation in August 2004.

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Gov’t shy to shame failing ministers

22nd February 2021

Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.

Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.

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Bokamoso, Gov’t in P10M womb removal suit

22nd February 2021

Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.

The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.

According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.

Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead.
According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.

“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.

The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.

The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.

Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.

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Masisi warned against a sinking Botswana

22nd February 2021
Ndaba GAolatlhe

The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.

Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty.  “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.

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