LOBATSE: The Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) collected P40 billion in various taxes last year, exceeding the target set by the government of P37 billion despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, BusinessWeek has learnt.
Initially, the government had given the BURS a target of P43 billion, but this was later revised due to the effects of the COVID-19, which paralysed the economy.
Numbers made available this week indicate that about P16.2 billion was collected from customs and excise revenue, P11.4 billion from non-mineral income tax, P7.8 billion from Value Added Tax (VAT) and P2.4 billion from mineral taxes, amongst others.
The latest figures represent a turnaround for the tax collector, who has generally fallen below targets set by the Finance Ministry in the past few years, collecting about P38 billion in 2019-2020 against a target of P41 billion.
Analysts said the higher collections in the 2020-2021 financial year were helped by tighter collections, with the BURS pursuing revenues from previously unmonitored sectors, including the second-hand import vehicle sector.
BURS acting Commissioner General, Segolo Lekau told BusinessWeek the agency’s target for this year has been increased to P43 billion.
VAT and Withholding Tax have both been increased, while a new sugar tax has been introduced. It is expected that a new carbon tax to cover vehicle emissions could also be introduced during the tax year.
“The revenue projections are tied to GDP growth rates,” Lekau told BusinessWeek on the sidelines of a BURS training workshop near Lobatse.
“Therefore the expected global economic revival of 5.5 percent through consumption, investment and trade and a positive outlook of 8.8 percent expected in the domestic economy in 2021, strengthened by the positive outlook for both the mining sector and non-mining sectors is expected to result in the growth of tax revenues hence the estimates.”
Mineral taxes are forecast to reach P5.6 billion from P1.8 billion in the previous year, while customs and excise receipts are expected to decline to P13.5 billion from P16.2 billion. Customs and excise revenues are received through a revenue-sharing agreement under the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
The targeted tax amounts to about 69% of the government’s expected revenues in 2021-2022. The finance ministry expects the bulk of the remaining budget revenues to come from mineral royalties and dividends, which are expected to amount to P17.6 billion up from P4.7 billion.
VAT increased to 14% from April 1, while Withholding Tax rose to 10%. Personal tax thresholds at the bottom of the scale have, however, been reviewed.