The Botswana Unified Revenue Service and Competition Authority (CA) have entered into an agreement that will see the two cooperating on issues of mutual interest. The two public enterprises signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Wednesday. The agreement will enable CA to access data from BURS on company figures such as turnover for the purpose of calculating market share which will enable the authority to understand the market structure and make informed decisions with respect to the effect of anti-competitive business conducts and for mergers and acquisitions decisions, said Tebelelo Pule, acting CEO of CA. The information, she said, will be used in cases such as assessing if the enterprise falls within a threshold of merger filing, assessing whether the organisation is dominant and to find the possibility of abuse of dominance among others. Pule, who has been acting in the position since the departure of founding CEO Thula Kaira in April last year, has assured stakeholders that information will be treated with strict confidentiality as dictated by the Competition Act. She believes the partnership will not only improve the quality and speed of decisions but will also minimise and save government resources deployed when executing the two organisations’ mandate.
Pule’s counterpart at BURS, Commissioner General, Ken Morris’ take is that, as an assessor and tax collector on behalf of government, they would naturally hold specific information on taxpayers’ transactions for purposes of assisting in the correct determination of their tax liabilities. As such, he said, it would at some stage become critical for either party to request information from another to validate submissions made. The agreement has basically formalised a framework that would allow BURS and CA to exchange information that is beneficial to both parties. According to the MoU, the scope of cooperation and information sharing will see the two organisations informing each other in advance on regulatory changes or other material events that may have a significant impact on their joint operations. Areas of cooperation or information sharing include providing each other with valuable and useful information pertaining to any enterprises which at the material time may have notified CA of a merger or acquisition. The agreement also binds the two to assist each other with investigations and also appear in court or other judicial and quasi-judicial bodies as expert witness or to provide evidence in relation to their specific competency provided that there is no conflict with the governing laws and internal procedures of either party.