Parliament has approved the proposed amendments to the Banking Act in which banks will now be forced to disclose customers’ confidential banking information to the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) for tax purposes.
Tax evasion has been worrying the BURS prompting the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo to table the Banking Bill 2013 before parliament. When presenting the Bill he said in recent years, concerns have been increased regarding tax evasion more especially through non-disclosure of banking information.
“Cooperation among jurisdictions is needed and should come in the form of exchange of banking information for tax purposes that will ensure that tax evaders have no safe havens to hide their income and assets and that the right amount of tax is paid in the right tax jurisdictions,” the minister said.
He explained that the amendment sought to allow for disclosure of confidential information by banks to the BURS without the requirement of obtaining a court order. The amendment will add BURS to a list of privileged organizations that banks cannot refuse to give information to.
Matambo emphasized that Botswana needed to strengthen her institutional and legislative framework, to prevent illicit international financial inflows, which have the potential to tarnish the integrity of the country’s financial system.