The Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) intends to collect P45 billion revenue returns by 2019. This was said by corporate planning and communications officer Gaitsiwe Motsewabagae in an interview last week.
The revenue agency has not treaded closer to the forecasted figure in the past but Motsewabagae assets that collecting such an amount will be of great benefit to the country at large. “Revenue collected becomes part of the National Revenue Budget and the 45 billion will therefore result in an increase in the revenue to be shared for National projects,” he said.
According to its annual reports BURS collected P32.015 billion, P37.489 billion and P35.335 billion in 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/2016 financial years respectively. Between 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial years a growth rate of 17.1 percent was recorded with the amount that had been collected in 2014/15 cited to have exceeded the target by 4.8 percent. Motsewabagae could not avail the amount collected in 2016/17 citing that the figures are still being audited. Comparing the revenue collected in the 2015/16 financial year to the anticipated revenue BURS will have to collect an additional P9.665 billion by 2019.
Motsewabagae expressed however that reaching the target will not come easy given the challenges BURS is grappling with. He cited the following as challenges, one, an increase in sophisticated cross border crime involving amongst others drug trafficking and money laundering. He added that tax arrears also undermine the efforts of BURS as a significant proportion of arrears prove difficult to collect as some of the debtors cannot be traced. He also mentioned the emergence of new generation tax issues such as transfer pricing. Two, he said unemployment also poses a threat in terms of lowering revenue income, explaining that an increase in number of people without income results in the absence of taxation thereby reducing the total tax revenue from employment income. Three, he mentioned administrative and logistical problems relating to provision of proper infrastructure as well as managing the maintenance of the border post facilities. He added that a reduction in revenue from the mining sector due to mine closures will also have an impact in the revenue.
Going forward BURS will, said Motsewabagae, ensure that the internal revenue service conduct examinations peoples’ tax returns more regularly in order to verify that their income and deductions are accurate. He expects that this will assist in increasing tax revenue. Moreover, he said BURS is continually upgrading its human resource skills as well as technology solutions to deal with the new generation tax issues. “BURS is embracing the use of IT to make payment of taxes simpler for taxpayers, the new Customs Management System was implemented from January 2017 and a new Tax Management System is under development. BURS has introduced electronic filing and payment of taxes and rolled it out to all tax types during 2016,” he said.