Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Elbow benders continues to make more money for the Gov’t

The controversial alcohol levy continues to be the leader in terms of contribution to the monies collected by the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) on behalf of government departments and agencies.

The tax collecting agency says during 2017 it collected a total of P629.2 million on behalf of government departments and agencies compared to P507.9 million which was collected in the previous financial year.

Most of the collections came from the Alcohol Levy which contributed

68 percent, followed by Transport Permits by 21 percent while other levies each contribute less than 10 percent.

According to BURS, the alcohol Levy recorded the largest increase in collections because during the reporting period there was a change in the formula for calculation of alcoholic beverages which was heavier on imports than on locally produced goods and thus yielded more revenue.

The BURS figures come at a time when the government has made a commitment to review the levy rates as well as liquor trading hours.

At the same time, it has also emerged that the levy on alcohol and Beverages Fund Order has not been externally audited in over 9 years. In its ten year existence, the fund has had one external audit and two internal audits.

Philip Makgalemele, junior minister at Health and Wellness Ministry, told Parliament at the beginning of July 2018 that the fund was last audited in 2009 while it was still with the ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry. The fund was then transferred to ministry of Health and Wellness in 2010 with a balance of P133.9 million, where it was subjected to two internal audits in 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 financial years.

Established in 2008, the levy on Alcohol and Beverages Fund Order’s purpose is to promote projects and activities designed to combat alcohol abuse and minimise the effects of alcohol abuse. With a cumulative collection balance of P2.8 billion, the fund is arguably one of the largest in the country.

The funds are collected by Botswana Unified Revenue Services which charges 6 percent collection fee before the funds are disbursed. Both the ministry of Health and Wellness and the ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs each receive 10 percent of the alcohol levy fund, while the remaining funds are paid into the government consolidated fund.

Meanwhile Makgalemele told parliament in early July that preparations are underway through the government’s Auditor General to undertake external audit of the fund from 2010 to do a comprehensive audit.

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The Telegraph December 2

Digital edition of The Telegraph, December 2, 2020.