The Commissioner General of the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS), Ken Morris, is optimistic that his institution’s revenue collections will rise following the launch of its Customs Canine Unit.
In a brief interview just after the graduation ceremony where Detector Dog Handling Course participants were awarded certificates, Morris said the introduction of the Canine Unit will reinforce the security services at entry ports.
“There are people who do business and make lots of money. They evade tax and after the money has accumulated they smuggle it outside the country. The three dogs that have been trained to detect endangered species, currency and tobacco products and copper wire are going to curb this problem,” he explained.
He is gratified that the South African Revenue Services trainer trained the local customs officers, noting that SARS has proven to be a robust revenue collector.
He said: “It may be of great interest to all of us to note that in the 2015/16 fiscal year, SARS collected revenue amounting to over R1 trillion on behalf of the Republic of South Africa. This surely must be a landmark accomplishment in the entire African continent.
SARS also has a robust modernisation programme in the area of tax and administration. This is the reason why SARS has been our strategic partner in building Botswana Unified Revenue Service sniffer dogs’ capability.”
“One of the most notable growth stories of the Revenue Service is the collection of taxes which has grown from P11.8 billion in 2005 to P35 billion in 2016, which is an increase of nearly 200 percent. Over the years BURS has instituted several strategic initiatives geared towards promoting taxpayer compliance, for instance, in the financial year 2015/16 we implemented the e-services filing and payment platforms which allow our clientele base to file and pay taxes in the comfort of their offices and homes,” he said.
He underpinned that whilst they have plenty to celebrate and demonstrate as evidence for achievements, challenges are still many and abound. Amongst these is the proliferation of illicit trade in Botswana which not only leads to revenue leakages but also has an enormous impact on the health and safety of Batswana.
“Sadly, I want to believe that many amongst us have family members who have fallen prey to the scourge of habit forming drugs that are being trafficked into our country through border posts and other ungazetted border areas,” he said.