Saturday, December 4, 2021

‘Prioritize SACU negotiations’-Boko

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Duma Boko has urged the government of Botswana to prioritize conclusion of negotiations on the revenue sharing formula at the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

In his response to the 2016/17 budget last week, Boko, who is also Leader of Opposition in parliament, faulted the Minister of Finance for omitting to mention the status of SACU negotiations in his budget speech, despite the fact that SACU is one of the most important contributors to government revenues. 

“The outcome of these negotiations has a potentially high impact on the government spending position. This could have a significant fiscal impact,” he said.

However, Secretary for Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Finance Dr. Taufila Nyamazabzo mentioned at the First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) budget review that SACU revenue averaged 29 percent over the past five years. He added that since the negotiations on the SACU revenue sharing formula started in 2013 there has not been any definite progress, but however asserted that the current formula works for Botswana.    

Boko also called for a review of the country’s investment strategy, saying the current system is characterized by an assortment of fragmented investments on behalf of government through various players like the Bank of Botswana, Botswana Development Corporation, Public Officers Pension Fund and a serious of public enterprises. 

“Many of these organizations’ mandates are not clear and government maintains tight operational control over some of them. As the opposition, we call for a more systematic approach in which we pool capital resources and strategic assets, assign clear investment mandates and targets, grant operational autonomy to the satellite of entities and encourage a culture of excellence and merit,” he said.

He added that such investment, if managed properly, would generate additional revenues to government in the tune of billions per year. He further said the Opposition would offer tax incentives to companies whose revenues are generated by locally fomented patents. 

“We will significantly expand government’s long term bond/debt programme and introduce its management as a major cog in the funding of long term infrastructure projects,” he said.

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