Chasing crooked cars

Kabelo Adamson



Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) has vowed to intensify its fight against grey import car dealers in Mogoditshane.

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This includes going after car owners suspected to have connived with dealerships to pay ‘under the odds’ for their vehicles.

Recently, the taxman swept through Mogoditshane, seizing a number of vehicles from car dealerships on suspicion the dealers were undervaluing their cars and thus depriving government of the much-needed tax revenue.

The taxman has taken hundreds of imported vehicles in its custody as he continues with his investigations into the car dealers.

“We are not doing anything different. It is within the law that you can bring goods into the country, then later we come to carry audits on your transactions,” Acting BURS Commissioner General, Segolo Lekau, told the media this week, adding they are now doing post-clearance audits, in line with international best practices.

Lekau revealed BURS conducted random inspections of the car dealers in Mogoditshane and discovered many cars were being undervalued during their clearance at the time of them arriving into the country.

“We have found that Batswana are also working with these car dealers as we realised they buy these cars at a higher price and are given an invoice showing a lesser amount than the actual one paid in Durban,” he explained.

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As a result, the taxman says he is losing a lot of money in both Custom Duty and Value Added Tax (VAT).

BURS General Manager – Investigations Compliance and Enforcement, Kaone Molapo, announced they will broaden their operations to include those who knowingly bought these imported vehicles at undervalued prices.

“We plead with those who use cars bought and cleared with incorrect prices to come forward and give us evidence of how much you bought it because you, too, are guilty,” stressed Molapo.

He warned if the owners of these cars do not voluntarily hand themselves in to BURS, the taxman will go after them.

“But we are lenient as we presume these people innocent because when they carried out transactions, they did so in good faith and, apparently, most of them were not given the correct invoices.”

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Molapo says it appears car dealers in Durban have agreed among themselves to price all cars coming to Botswana cheap.

The raid is expected to stretch to other areas of the country, including Francistown, Palapye and Maun in the coming weeks.

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