Media sniffs worry BURS in pursuit of tax evaders

24 Jun 2019

BY CALISTUS BOSALETSWE

The Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) fears that the recent media publicised crack-down on individuals who owe taxes has a potential to tarnish the BURS.

The BURS officials were this week heckled at the Gaborone City Council full council meeting for alleged leaking of information to the media on individuals who owes the tax man.

The GCC councillors were worried that there was no longer secrecy on individuals as there were a number of incidents where the media were part of their crack-down on certain individuals.

In his response the BURS, acting commissioner operations, William Nkitseng confirmed that the BURS has been witnessing incidents where the media flock their crack-down.

He noted that the recent development is worrisome as it has a potential to tarnish the image of the tax man.

Nkitseng’s suspicion is that there are some security organs who deliberately release information about the BURS crackdown to the media.  According to Nkitseng their employees are aware that it is a criminal offence to leak information about individuals who owes tax.  

“We have been doing this for a long time and the media was not part of the BURS crackdown.. It’s not us who release such information because our laws do not allow us to so,”added Nkitseng,

Nkitseng was of the view that the recent crack-down could tarnish the image of BURS. He indicated that there are some organisations that the tax man exchange information with for tax purpose. Nkitseng noted that such organisation could blacklist BURS if they find out that BURS was contravening laws on secrecy.

“They may decide not to exchange information with us because individual information is not safe with us. We fear that they might think that the information that they share with us is not safe, “said Nkitseng.

According to Nkitseng the issue has been referred to the investigating officer at the BURS.

He said that the investigation officer has also noted his disappointment about the recent raids where the media is always present. He assured councillors that BURS treat the issue with respect and they will make sure that there are no more publicised crack-down.

Nkitseng also noted that they are working with a number of security organs such as Directorate of Intelligence Service (DIS)   and Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) when dealing with complex issues such as money laundering.  

Lately a number of high profile individuals such as the former Directorate of Intelligence Service, Isaac Kgosi were arrested at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SKIA) for issues relating to tax while the Umbrella for Democratic Change, Duma Boko’s car was also impounded in full glare of media.