Thursday, July 2, 2020

It’s Puzzle time, but the Gov’t cannot spot the taxman

Before the end of this month (February 2020), the Botswana government will, for the third time, try her luck at the labour markets to recruit a Commissioner General for tax collecting agency – the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS).

The post has been vacant since November 2018 and the government seems to be struggling to get a candidate who can tick all the boxes to become the country’s tax man.

To date, the agency has circulated jobs vacancy in local newspapers not once but twice with the first done in September 2018, a few months before the then General Commissioner – Ken Morris left. Another attempt was made in December 2019 but just like the previous one proved futile. 

The current Commissioner General – Segolo Lekau took over from Morris at the time of his departure and has been acting since then.

The abnormally of absence of a substantive leader at BURS this week reached not just the parliament corridors but its floor as well.

The Member of Parliament for Francistown West – Ignatius Moswaane this week could not help but paint a glaring picture of what he perceives to be an insult to the intelligence Lekau.

“Honourable Minister I want you to clearly define this… that a responsible organisation like BURS with a compliment of qualified staff, good working ethos and ethics has reached a stage where it will have a Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner without meeting qualifications for the position. How did this happen? Don’t have a succession plan?”, Moswaane questioned his BDP counterpart – Thapelo Matsheka who is head of treasury.

In response, Matsheka admitted that some instances of not having a sufficient succession planning occasions such as this do happen.

“The reality is such that when the position is advertised everybody within the organisation is free to apply and if the Acting Commissioner General fits the criteria, he will get the position”, Matsheka said.

With regards to operational performance, Matsheka said despite the absence of a substantive leader, BURS expect to meet the revenue target set for the 2019/20 financial year.

Available figures show that BURS’s tax collection for the year ending March 2018 totalled P40,714 billion while actual collection for the year in question amounted to P41.204.

The staggering actual tax collection of P40.714 billion for the financial year 2017/18 exceeded that of 2015/16 which was lowly at P35.335 billion by P5.379 billion or 15.2 percent.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of June 28 - 4 July, 2020.