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BURS urges businesses to ply Trans-Kalahari corridor

15 Mar 2023

Businesses in Lobatse have been urged to use opportunities offered by the Trans-Kalahari corridor to bolster business and economy in the town.

Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) director general, Ms Jeannette Makgolo said during a BURS stakeholder engagement forum with the business community and government departments in Lobatse on Monday March 13.

Ms Makgolo said the town was well positioned on the trade corridor between Botswana, South Africa and Namibia via the Trans-Kalahari highway.

She pointed that the town could become a thriving business centre if opportunities offered by that trade pathway were fully utilised.

Ms Makgolo added that BURS was ready to facilitate special tax incentives to investors coming to operate Special Economic Zones (SEZs) licensed businesses in Lobatse. The town was declared a meat and leather SEZ by government.

“Some of the available tax incentives under this dispensation include taxation of investors for SEZ licensed operations at a special rate of five per cent as opposed to the usual 22 per cent rate. That is for the first 10 years of operation in a SEZ and 10 per cent thereafter. That is a motivation for us to get more people operating within these SEZs,” she said.

She further said other incentives included Value Added Tax (VAT) exemptions on purchases of raw materials, duty free imports of specialist plant and machinery for manufacturing purposes, no exchange controls, full repatriation of profits and waiver on transfer duty on land and property.

Ms Makgolo said BURS collected revenue amounting to P386 million in Lobatse region for financial years from 2017/18 to 2021/22. She said the area covered Pioneer and Ramatlabama border posts. She said P240 millions of that amount was collected by Pioneer border post.

She said stakeholder engagements offered BURS the opportunity to discuss and get feedback from public on taxation issues, border management and trade facilitation.

“That would help BURS to make informed decisions on how we could enhance service delivery and revenue collection for the development of the country,” she said.

The BURS director general said for the year 2023/24, the government set a revenue target of P60 493 billion for BURS compared to a target of P47 572 billion in the current financial year. This, she said, was informed by demands of the country and efforts to mobilise revenue domestically.

She said BURS was also engaged in improving operational efficiencies to combat issues of human trafficking and money laundering, adding that they were facing challenges of false declarations, smuggling of fruits and vegetables, possession of illegal substances and failure to produce road permits.

Chairman of Lobatse Business Council, Mr Bushi Mosala complained about the increase in business related levies such as road permits, Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA) insurance, permits for agriculture and others collected by BURS at point of entries. He also asked for Pioneer to be turned into 24 hour border post.

He also asked BURS to consider allowing businesses to bring products bought on credit and pay tax later after selling. He said that would enable businesses to recover from financial difficulties caused by COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Mosala also asked for reduced tax rates for Lobatse businesses.

 “Lobatse is becoming a white elephant. We request BURS to reduce tax for all investors that come to Lobatse and furthermore give manufacturing more allowance so that Lobatse could be revived,” he said. 

He further asked for Lobatse to be given a special preference and declared as a full industrial town. 

He said that would enable the town to employ more of its residents and eliminate poverty and unemployment. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Jeremiah Sejabosigo

Location : Lobatse

Event : Stakeholder Engagement

Date : 15 Mar 2023