Thursday, October 22, 2020

Parliament amends VAT Act

Parliament has approved the amendment of Value Added Tax Act to include some basic commodities left behind during the past revision of the law, the motion acknowledged by the opposition Members of Parliament although with a pinch of salt.

Opposition Botswana Congress Party and Umbrella for Democratic Change MP’s expressed sentiments that the development was long overdue.

Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo Thursday moved the motion to include brown bread, vegetables, fruits, as well as rice, samp, milk and bread flour as some basic commodities to be included in the amendment.

“Will you accept responsibility your ruling party has been slow in implementing some of these changes. These are some of the simplest things you should have done long time ago as the party under control,” intervened opposition BCP MP Bagalatia Arone as the ruling Botswana Democratic Party MP Fidelis Molao resumed debate of the motion Friday.

Arone cited his party manifestoes of 2009 and 2014 ahead of the national elections in which they preached the inclusion of “some of these basic commodities” but to no avail.

Contrary to opposition parties the ruling BDP was not receptive to their ideas and suggestions, Molao responded the truth of the matter was his party was accommodative to divergent views some emanating from the opposition parties.

“The suggestions could have come from the other aisle but you should know we are the party in control and legitimate to implementing some of these laws,” he argued to which Arone requested Shashe West MP to pile accolades over the BCP for having initially come with the idea.

Molao would however not accede, preferring instead to continue with his debate to describe his party as pro-people more than the so-called socially inclined parties, referring to opposition BCP and UDC.

“While you may think we are bankrupt of ideas we are not,” he said, citing their current effort to mitigate and cushion the difficulties the average Motswana may face with the introduction of the new law.

Besides an effort to encourage consumption of healthy meals by families, the amendment is anticipated to reduce food items prices thus improving the quality of life of families.

Also on the amendment was the inclusion of supplies of tractors used for farming to be exempt from VAT.

“This means the supply of tractors used for farming is added to the list of exempt supplies,” Matambo said.

The move is expected to create employment and enhance food security which the country is depended upon so much on the neighbouring South Africa.

For the first time in the history of the country, the ruling BDP suffered a devastating threat from the opposition, snatching 20 parliamentary seats out 57 after the recent national elections- a shaky political landscape in a constituency based electoral system.

Critics say the near- defeat scenario prompted the party leadership to reconsider some of its policies including the current amendment.

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