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Tighten control of national purse – Business Botswana tells Matambo

Tighten control of national purse – Business Botswana tells Matambo
January 15
13:44 2018
  • Private sector body is concerned that off-budget levies are prone to abuse

VINCENT MATUMO

After years of warning government about the perils of some off-budget levies on some sectors and begging for a review of the treatment of some these levies, Business Botswana is appealing to finance minister Kenneth Matambo to take charge of the national purse and restore faith in systems that guard public funds.

BB has for years said with many levies collected in the country, accountability has become an issue because parliamentary oversight is lacking in respect of the collection and use of revenues raised through such levies.

The private sector apex body has regularly warned that levies on are prone to abuse. At any rate, BB has said, “the use of a plethora of off-budget levies and special funds undermines good and accountable governance … considering the authority and oversight of Parliament regarding public finances”.

The ongoing saga in which the former Managing Director of Kgori Capital, Bakang Seretse, and others are facing charges of laundering money supposedly belonging to the National Petroleum Fund has raised alarm surrounding protection and security of public funds.

This has prompted Business Botswana to urge Matambo to restore faith and confidence in the system that guards public funds. Firstly, BB says Matambo must issue a statement to assure the nation that systems are still functional as opposed to the public view that everything is in disarray.

BB is also urging that measures be taken to ensure that all levies are safeguarded and are housed strictly at the finance ministry. Some of the levies that are perceived by the business community to be problematic include those drawn from UHT milk, wheat flour, alcohol, road safety, tourism training and former Botswana Training Authority training levies.

“Our concern stems from the fact that these are public funds which are falling victim to either fraud or corrupt practices,” the BB statement says. “It leaves us to ask ourselves a question as to whether the systems and procedures that are in place are so weak such that they are open to abuse.” BB also questions whether boards charged with a fiduciary responsibility over such resources are vigilant enough to avert fraudulent activity in the funds that they manage.

In the financial year 2015/2016, Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) collected P587 million only from levies on copyright, tobacco, road safety tokens, transport permits, flour and alcohol.

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