A fresh study compiled by the Africa Capacity Report (ACR) shows that Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) is struggling to collect taxes. The grim news comes against the backdrop of a report compiled by Global Financial Integrity (GFI) a few months ago which revealed that Botswana lost over P200 billion between the years 2004 to 2013, through illicit money transfers.
According to the ACR, Botswana collected P47.9 billion through direct and indirect tax in the year 2012 ÔÇô ranking the country 18th out of a possible 45 African countries surveyed. The report also revealed that foreign workers in Botswana sent home cash remittances of P193.8 million with net resources flows amounting to $2.54 billion.
Amongst other things, the ACR revealed that tax systems in Botswana are inefficient. “Better-trained staff must be hired by the revenue authorities and be retained with the right financial incentives. More needs to be done to build the capacity of revenue authorities to engage with taxpayers and foster a culture where taxation is seen as contributing to essential services,” read part of the report.
Earlier in the year, BURS admitted to optimum tax and customs revenues challenges, adding that public ignorance on matters related to tax resulted in low compliance levels.
During a panel discussion on the partnership on illicit finance, the African Development Bank president Dr Akinwumi Adesina lamented and expressed concern about the fact that Africa is losing over US$50 billion through tax evasion and avoidance. He also said Africa must, as a matter of urgency, scrutinise financial transactions as this will, to a significant degree, ensure that proceeds from resources remain in respective countries and contribute to development.
“There is need for accountability and transparency [and] international tax cooperation is key in achieving this,” said Dr Adesina at the time. He cited some multinational firms as the source and major perpetrators of illicit financial flows.