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Taxman targets P44.4bn in collections

MBONGENI MGUNI
Pulling stops: Matsheka is eager to return to fiscal stability
The Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) has a tough task on its hands as its parent ministry expects it to collect at least P44.4 billion in the upcoming financial year, nearly 10% or P4 billion higher than the figure expected this year.

BURS is the spearhead of government’s recently announced drive to boost budget revenues and return to fiscal sustainability following years of deficits under NDP 11.

The plan involves higher tax collections, greater cost recovery across the public services, chasing up outstanding debts such as student loan arrears and revising long-static fees and charges for government services.

According to draft Finance Ministry revenue estimates seen this week, the BURS is expected to rake in at least P44.4 billion for the 2020/21 financial year across the various tax lines it collects on behalf of government.

This situation is compared to the collections of P40.5 billion which it is forecast the BURS will have made by the end of the current financial year on March 31.

By comparison, in the 2018/19 financial year, the BURS handed government P39.6 billion in tax collections and P40.7 billion for the 2017/18 year.

For the upcoming financial year, the BURS is expected to collect P15.4 billion in customs and excise revenue up from the forecast P13.8 billion this year, as well as P8.6 billion in VAT up from P7.9 billion.

The taxman is targeting P503 million in vehicle taxes from

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P421 million forecast for the current financial year, while mineral taxes are expected to reach P5.6 billion from P5.2 billion.

At P44.4 billion, the tax revenue amounts to 72% of the projected revenues for 2020/21 budget announced by Finance Minister, Thapelo Matsheka three weeks ago.

On Wednesday during his ministry’s Committee of Supply presentation, Finance Minister, Dr Thapelo Matsheka told Parliament strategies would be implemented to drive up tax collections in the upcoming financial year.

“These include, amongst others, increasing the number of sector specific tax audits to be conducted on taxpayers in order to close gaps in tax reports, the use of business intelligence and data analysis to get a better understanding of the behavioural patterns of VAT collection so as to reduce instances of evasion and undertaking a Tax Gap study to provide guidance on the economic sectors on which tax revenue administration should focus its attention,” he said.

In his budget speech, Dr Matsheka said while there was scope to adjust tax rates considering their levels relative to the region, priority would be on “improving efficiency in the collection of existing taxes, rather than adjusting rates”.



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