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Tax Policy Section v Botswana Unified Revenue Service

TUMELO RANNAU

The Tax Policy Section (TPS) and Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) are the custodians of tax policies and regulations in the country, both fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

TPS work is mostly on formulation and review of all tax policies and legislation while BURS are on the implementation side. Though they work closely with TPS on issues such as improving revenue laws, BURS are an enforcement agency and derive its mandate from the BURS Act of 2004. Therefore TPS is always the right body to approach whenever various stakeholders wants to influence changes in tax policy. TPS through the help of BURS also undertakes research and revenue forecasting in order to help other policy makers make informed decisions, the forecasts feed into the national budget preparation and other government expenditure initiatives.

The research also include analysis of the tax gap which is the difference between actual and possible collection. This is important as it can help both the TPS and BURS to channel their efforts towards ensuring that the gap is closed if it is wide and there is under collection. TPS also act as an advisory body to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development (the Minister) on powers vested upon him in relation to various tax statutes.

These range from issues such as waiver of interest, issuing of Development Approval Orders, tax agreements, IFSC certificates etc. The section is also involved in trade negotiations in relation to Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs). The agreements are entered into to facilitate trade between the states entering into such agreements and can be used as a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attraction. They are also used to counter tax evasion/avoidance and double taxation of income.

For instance a DTAA between Botswana and South Africa will ensure that companies that operate in South Africa and are from Botswana are not taxed by BURS and South African Revenue Service (SARS) on the same income. One country will either be given taxing rights or a tax credit provided by the other country should it be declared as part of gross income.

Apart from drafting of DTAAs the section also advises all government ministries and departments when entering into bilateral agreements with other countries. TPS provides advice in terms of the cost-benefit analysis of such bilateral agreements and how they may affect government revenue. The section also serves as Secretariat of the Taxation Review Committee (TRC) and Board of Adjudicators (BoA).

TRC is responsible for review of taxation laws and proposing amendments to the Minister while the BoA hears appeals by taxpayers on decisions made by the Commissioner General of BURS. TPS is also a national liaison office for all Southern African Customs Union (SACU) related activities. BURS on the other hand ensures that all tax laws and policies including DTAAs are adhered to by taxpayers and some provisions in the law are not abused.

They are also responsible for improvement of any tax administration issues and efficient collection of revenue. These range from system improvements, employee empowerment, efficient audits, taxpayer education and anything else that can ease compliance by taxpayers and revenue collection by tax officers.

Where the inefficiency is due to laws, BURS are empowered to make proposals to the Minister to make amendments that will make their work better. BURS is also responsible for counteracting tax fraud and evasion, this may be through imposing heavy penalties, signing automatic exchange of information with other tax authorities and other measures they may consider necessary.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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