Seven months before the general elections, the new Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Dumelang Saleshando, has said the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is slowly copying and implementing his party’s policies which has been in its (BCP) manifestos for years.
Responding to the budget speech by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo, Saleshando told The Telegraph that the amendments to the Transfer Duty to encourage home ownership by first-timeowners was their policy which does not appear in the BDP manifesto.
He said it was a half way stop to their proposal on housing issues.┬á Saleshando also said the scrapping of the Value Added Tax (VAT) on basic food stuffs was also their proposal which also does not appear in the BDP manifesto.
He said the scrapping of VAT on basic food stuffs cannot be avoided as it has a bearing on the ordinary man. ┬á
“We are happy that all these policies that have never been in the BDP manifesto are being implemented,” he said.
In presenting his speech, Matambo said, “government continues to make efforts to expand the revenue base and further simplify the tax regime. During the financial year 2014/15, my Ministry will present to Parliament amendments to the Income Tax Act and the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act. Specifically, the VAT Act will be amended to exempt all farming equipment and all basic food staff which are currently zero rated. To encourage intake of balanced meals for families, the list of basic food items will be increased to include, among others, vegetables, rice and milk.”
He also said the VAT registration threshold would be increased from P500 000 to P1 000┬á000┬á ┬áin order to relieve small tax payers on the burden of regularly filing VAT returns.
“We will also present to Parliament, amendments to the Transfer Duty Act, which are meant to encourage homeownership, especially by first-time home owners.”
However, MP for Gaborone Bonnington-South, Botsalo Ntuane, who rejoined the BDP from the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), said this year’s budget was the best since he came to Parliament. ┬áHe said it was a people-centred budget which ticks all the right boxes.
“It is strong on social protection when you consider that the top three allocations in recurrent spending are education, health and local government and rural development. It also seeks to stimulate the economy through massive investment in public and social services when you consider the three allocations under development budget which are Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Affairs, transport and infrastructure.”
He said the exemption of VAT on basic food stuffs, the increase of the tax threshold from P500┬á000 to P1 million are all designed to assist small men and small enterprises.
“It is a good news budget and should stand the government in good stead in the October elections,” Ntuane said.