Home » News » Business » Transfer duty law amendment hot potato

Transfer duty law amendment hot potato

Publishing Date : 03 December, 2018

Author : TSAONE SEGAETSHO

Parliament is expected to pass transfer duty law amendment which is already colliding with negative reactions –it is feared the law comes with changes that will sabotage the country’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and almost inhibit the ease of doing business in Botswana.


The new major changes on the transfer duty law which have caused a row in the business community is that, now transfer duty shall be charged at the rate of 5% of the transfer value of property for citizens and 30% for non-citizens. The other change is that the sale or issue of shares in a company owning property which changes beneficial ownership shall be deemed to be the transfer of the property and transfer duty shall be payable.


According to fresh information received by this publication, already businesses have engaged the Business Botswana to make representations to Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and government in general to have some parts removed, especially the nationalistic clause that comes with increasing transfer duty from 5 percent to 30 percent for non-citizens. Tax expert believe this will kill FDI.


Also, those buying shares from any stock exchange will be liable to transfer duty and experts believe this is going to inhibit ease of doing business in Botswana. This is because this will cause delays and disadvantage buyers of shares while at the same time affecting property companies’ performance on bourses.


The Transfer Duty Amendment Bill 2018 (Bill) was published on 2 November 2018. Amendment of the transfer duty law is yet to be tabled for debate before parliament and is expected to be enacted into law once it sails through the parliamentary processes. Some observers fears Parliament is going to rubberstamp the law and the upcoming debates would not change anything. It is expected to become a fully fledged law in the parliament sessions of December 2018 or January 2019.


On the issue of foreigners previously required to pay transfer duty of 5 percent, and is now asked to pay 30 percent, on its “high level synopsis” of the transfer duty amendment bill of 2018, accounting firm Mazars’ tax advisory stance is not approval of the new nationalistic changes. “The amendment has increased this rate to 30%. In our view this may adversely affect the property market by stifling competitiveness in the market as participation of non-citizens in the property space may be limited or inhibited by the new regulations. This may lead to drops in property prices in the market,” said Mazars.


A tax specialist  Jonathan Hore believes increasing transfer duty for non-citizens will forkout more or not be able to afford land, especially finished property. Foreigners will resort to buying low value and undeveloped land and develop it and demand for property is likely to shrink, affecting property dealers. “The changes like increase of transfer duty for non-citizens from 5 percent to 30 percent come with fears that it will kill existing businesses. The property market is likely to crash as prices soar while demand becomes flat.


The property prices will fall due to reduced demand.  On the other hand banks may lose out on loans provided under mortgage arrangements as loaned amounts will exceed property values (collateral). Also, some suggest that ownership of land by non-citizens be subject to ministerial approval but that will complicate ease of doing business. Better increase transfer duty to say 12 percent maximum,” said Hore when doing analysis for the transfer duty law change.


In an interview with BusinessPost, Hore said those buying shares from any stock exchange will be liable to transfer duty. He said the issue on shares is likely to cause commotion at any bourse for property companies and it is ideal that this move is reconsidered. “Citizens should take advantage of exemption to acquire more property and non-citizens fast-track any current property acquisitions. Also, even if 30 percent transfer duty does not sail through for non-citizens, this is a signal that owning property in future may be difficult, so maximize whilst there is time,” advised Hore.

Cartoon

Polls

Do you think the courts will help put the UDC, BMD impasse within reasonable time ahead of the 2019 General Election?

banner_14.jpg
banner_12.jpg

POPULER BRANDS