Amid rising cost of living and economic contraction for many households and businesses owing to Covid19 pandemic, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame insists that the looming carbon and digital taxes are necessary.
Serame said the nation should not consider the introduction of new taxes as a strategy by government to further burden their livelihoods. According to her, the carbon and digital taxes will be targeting big multinational businesses that are operating in Botswana while their accounts are held in different countries where they pay taxes.
“The new proposed tax policies are not anyhow going to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) and the income tax. We are not going to increase taxes, not in the short term I assure that. We have seen a lot of business that do business online, take for example Amazon which sells in Botswana and is not paying tax here. This is a way to close leakages on our tax collection,” she said.
Serame added that there is existing provisions for VAT on digital gadgets but it won’t be affected when the new digital taxes come into effect, noting that draft bills for both carbon and digital are on the pipeline. “We should be getting more tax money from the multinational companies. I know the pain of demanding more taxes coming from the Covid19 pandemic,” said Serame, fielding questions from journalists regarding new taxes at a Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) briefing on Wednesday.
Furthermore, Serame said government is reviewing tax laws to align to international standards but assured that the process will not result in any increment.
According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, under a carbon tax government sets a price that emitters must pay for each ton of the greenhouse gas emissions that they emit. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions says businesses and consumers will take steps, such as switching fuels or adopting new technologies, to reduce their emissions to avoid paying the tax.
“A carbon tax can raise significant revenue. How that revenue is used will ultimately be a political choice. Some or all of it could be returned to consumers in the form of a dividend. Alternatively, it could be reinvested in climate purposes, such as advancing low-carbon technologies or building resilience. Economic research suggests that using the revenues to reduce existing taxes on labor and capital also known as a tax swap can minimize the economic costs and may result in net economic benefits,” said the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the Virginia based leading think tank on carbon taxes.
Climate Change Policy
Botswana government seeks to monetize carbon markets as contained in Botswana Climate Change Response Policy draft December 2021 support by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Under the carbon markets, government says it will explore the feasibility of developing a wide range enabling instruments to support mitigation plans and carbon budgets that would assist in realization of desired emission reductions to ensure that Botswana participate in the carbon markets.
“In order to establish sufficient carbon markets, the government will: Consider the imposition and enforcement of the carbon taxes and their compounded effect on the standard of living on ordinary citizens. Consider possibility of using the carbon emission offsets and emission trading scheme for all major economic sectors where a carbon approach and cooperation agreements have been selected and adopted,” reads part of the 2021 Botswana Climate Change Policy draft.
It will also develop legal framework for emission trading and access to new and existing markets at national, regional, international level including establishment of cap on trade for carbon where possible.
With regards to Polluter Pay Principle, Botswana intends in principles that the costs of remedying pollution and environmental degradation leading to climate change shall be borne by those responsible for harming the environment including the costs of consequent adaptation and mitigation actions.
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