Botswana receives a significant portions of her income from the customs and excise revenues sector mainly from the South Africa Customs Union (SACU) which is significantly becoming important in the local economy after gem stones and the tourism sector.
This was said by the minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo when officiating at the 24th governing meeting of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) of East and Southern Africa in Gaborone organised by Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS).
The meeting , which attracted close to 24 member countries, was meant to constructively seek solutions to trade imbalances and create a region that will facilitate trade efficiently to ensure economic growth and intra -regional trade.
“For the current financial year ,we estimate the contribution of the Customs collections to the government revenue to be about 23% of the state budget. We are fully aware of the part we have to play as the government to reduce over reliance on the customs revenues. Therefore it is for this reason that we are pursuing a number of economic initiatives with the view to enhancing the level of investment in the country therefore broadening our domestic tax base,” said Matambo.
Though Matambo has reiterated on the need to reduce reliance on Customs revenue, he has pledged Botswana’s support towards the World Customs Organisation agenda which is to solely advocate for capacity building amongst members to use customs management as an effective tool for economic development.
“It is with great pleasure that most of the countries which fall under this organisation or forum have recently signed to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a platform which creates an Africa wide free trade area. This will help accelerate economic integration of the continent with the aim of achieving economic growth therefore reducing and attaining sustainable economic development,” he said.
According to Matambo, agreements such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement create a single market for goods and services with free movement of business people and investment therefore accelerating the establishment of African Customs Union.
“We must acknowledge the central role that customs play in the implementation of these agreements. In addition economic integration experts advise that for any economic grouping to function one of the most critical steps is to simplify and harmonise customs systems and procedures for participating countries,” Matambo said.
In order to improve the trading environment Botswana has already passed and enacted new laws in 2018 which will ensure customs are well equipped to keep up with current, future developments as well as challenges.