The Minister of Finance and Economic Development -Kenneth Matambo has allayed fears the Transfer Duty Bill will chase away potential foreign investors, defeating the Government much touted “aspirations and dreams of open and competitive economy”.
Under the Direct Foreign Investment Policy Government of Botswana moves to attract much needed foreign investment in the country to augment the struggling local economy.
But some Members of Parliament this week expressed fear that new legislation will do the exact opposite of the initiative with the introduction of 30 percent to be payable by non-citizens of Botswana in transactions involving transfer of land other than agricultural land.
The rate is currently charged to non-citizens only for transactions involving agricultural land.
MP for Palapye – Moiseraela Goya debated against the introduction of a new that will see a 30 percent rise rates paid by foreigners.
“I had the opportunity as the Trade Minister then to be part of the participants under the Direct Foreign Investment Policy strategy wooing foreign investors. The first thing they inquire about is land,” he said, insisting the move will certainly thwart Government “aspirations and dreams open and competitive economy.”, Goya said.
In government’s view, as presented by Matambo, the new clause is meant to benefit the ordinary gullible Batswana who usually sell their land to foreigners.
Besides extending the rate of duty of 30% to be payable by persons that are not citizens of Botswana in transactions over land, the Bill also provides relief for deserving cases such as exempting first time home buyers, increasing threshold before payment of transfer duty by citizens of Botswana and exempting payment of duty where property has to be transferred between divorcees following divorce amongst others. The Bill will also see Batswana exempted from transfer duty from the current P200 000 to P500 000 with the prospect of an increase to P750 000
Responding to the concerns of the legislators, Matambo said, “We should guard jealously against our land. Potential investors will certainly buy the land…real potential investors,”.
The new legislation piece was passed for the second reading in Parliament on Thursday.