Trainee programme produces tax professionals.
Since its inception, the Graduate Trainee Programme (GTP) has produced 135 customs and tax professionals who have all been absorbed by Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) and deployed at its various offices.
Giving a keynote address at the graduation ceremony of the 4th intake of GTP recently, commissioner general of BURS, Mr Ken Morris said GTP was launched as a strategic response to address the inherent critical skills shortage in all areas of tax and customs administration within the revenue service.
He said BURS had an objective to mobilise tax revenue for the development of Botswana and that to implement its objective, it had to ensure that it had adequate resources both in terms of skilled manpower and support infrastructure.
He said BURS had prioritised staff development and capacity building amongst other priorities, as necessary pre-conditions for the successful delivery of the BURS revenue collection mandate.
'In this regard, BURS annually located a significant proportion of its budget to training. For instance, during the 2017/18 financial year, BURS set aside four per cent of its operational expenditure to training. The budget is reviewed annually to match needs,' he said.
Mr Morris noted that the investment in training complemented by other tax administration reforms that BURS had embarked on had resulted in success for the revenue services.
He said it was evidenced by the fact that BURS had consistently met the revenue targets that government had set for it annually. He added that elsewhere there was marked improvement in service delivery to taxpayers as evidenced by reduction in complaints.
He further highlighted that aside from the success in other tax administration reforms and appreciable revenue collection outcome, BURS was still faced with challenges to build internal capacity to tackle the ever changing tax administration landscape.
'It is for this reason that BURS recently embarked on an extensive review of the GTP. The review was undertaken by one of the highly recognised and acclaimed sister revenue administrations being the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), which has been running a tax institute for a long time,' he added.
Mr Morris also noted that the improvements that the BURS intended to introduce in the GTP were in recognition of the fact that tax and customs administration were complex and gradually evolving.
'We, therefore, have to produce graduates in this field who will be decisive and can stand their ground to confront sophisticated tax avoidance schemes such as transfer pricing, base erosion and profit shifting to mention just a few,' he said.
The 2017 graduate trainee programme graduated 26 trainees who had performed well, and have realised a 92 per cent pass rate.
Graduates were awarded certificates and those who performed well received certificates of excellence and prizes. Ms Bokani Buka was awarded certificate for best student in customs taxes while Ms Phemelo Maseng received an award for being the best student in domestic taxes and best overall student.