Finance and Economic Development Minister, Peggy Serame has allayed fears that government intends to hike taxes to plug fund fiscal deficits. Addressing media this week on issues related to Botswana Unified Revenue Services, Serame denied plans to increase tax within the short to medium term. “We can collect more taxes by being more efficient and closing the leakages,” Serame said. She said government is crafting and implementing policies that will enable growth of the economy and eventually increasing the tax-base than increasing tax. Government is currently reviewing the country’s VAT and Income Tax Acts, to improve the efficiency of tax collection and align the country’s tax regime to developments on the international arena. Serame said the reviews are also going to usher in a new Tax Administration Act. The minister is upbeat that the new tax policy and amendments of the VAT and Income Tax Act will be tabled in parliament during the November seating and be ready for implementation early next year. She said BURS will be implored to carry out more tax audits and inspections to address gaps within the country’s tax system. Over the past nine months, BURS’ revenue collection has also been aided by the Tax Amnesty expected to wind up end of May, after helping ease tax debts burdens on tax payers. Serame has bemoaned that only a handful has come forward to take advantage of the BURS Tax Amnesty scheme. She highlighted that 52 percent of the tax payers in arrears have applied for tax amnesty so far. “I am still concerned that 48 percent of the tax payers have not come forward to take advantage of the scheme,” said Serame. Currently, preliminary accounts indicate that BURS has collected total tax revenue of P45.3 billion for the year ended March 2022, surpassing the target of P44.4 billion. “This is not a windfall, but the results of deliberate efforts and hard work of visionary men and women of BURS and our key stakeholders,” said BURS Commissioner General, Jeanette Makgolo, attributing exceeding the target to stronger income tax and VAT collection. Under the financial year 2022/2023, government has set a target of P46.433 billion which translate to 68 percent of the country’s GDP. With a higher target than the previous year, Makgolo’s blueprint include addressing ICT challenges through modernizing infrastructure to increase tax compliance, organisation realignment, enhance information and physical security, coupled with being more customer centric. In addition, Makgolo has reshaped the BURS 2019-2024 Strategic Plan to be in line with her blueprint. “We completed the exercise in January 2022, and its implementation has commenced to assist us in achieving and exceeding our targets,” said Makgolo.
Serame allays fears of tax hike
Friday, April 22, 2022