BURS’ Makgolo Speaks To The Gazette

Jeanette Chanda Makgolo, the Commissioner General (CG) of the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS), has held the position for the last two and a half years under a five-year contract from August 2021. She made history as the first female to lead the local tax agency. In this interview with LETLHOGILE MPUANG, Makgolo discusses BURS’s revenue growth in the face of economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two financial years

At a recent press briefing in Gaborone, President Mokgweetsi Masisi noted that he was presiding over a developmental budget exceeding P16 billion, emphasising the significance of the forthcoming 2024/2025 national budget.
BURS plays a substantial role, contributing almost 70 percent to the total budget. In the 2021/2022 financial year, BURS exceeded its tax revenue target by P1.7 billion (3%), collecting a total of P46.222 billion. The following financial year (2022/2023) saw a collection of P49 billion, surpassing the target by 4.55 percent.

Staff morale
Upon her appointment, Makgolo conducted consultative meetings to understand the revenue service’s success and challenges. The insights led to the creation of the Transformation Roadmap that was approved by the BURS Board. The roadmap focused on priority areas such as refreshing the BURS strategy, reviewing Tax Administration ICT Systems, organisational realignment, organisational culture, improving information and physical security, customer centricity, stakeholder management, and improving staff morale.
“BURS underwent the IMF Tax Administration Diagnostic Assessment Tool (TADAT) between April and May 2021, revealing weaknesses in relation to international good practice,” she says. “This prompted a strategy to refresh in January 2022, implemented for the financial years 2021/2022, 2022/2023, and 2023/2024, with plans for a new five-year strategy underway.”
Projects addressing post-implementation audit and review of ICT Business Systems, organisational realignment, and enhanced security features have commenced. Efforts to transform BURS taxpayer service and image are also underway, with completed phases and construction initiated in January 2024.

Performance incentives
Makgolo says BURS has engaged with stakeholders to improve relations both locally and internationally, and made changes to staff performance incentives, paying them immediately after the end of the financial year in March 2023 for the first time in BURS history in order to boost staff morale.
She points out that BURS trade facilitation initiatives geared at facilitating and promoting seamless trade have paid off.
“The successful operation of the Mamuno Border Post on a 24 hours basis and the ongoing process of transforming the same border post into a one-stop border post is a case in pointy,” she notes.
“The launch of the Authorised Economic Operator and the successful completion of the Kazungula One-Stop Border Post are making things a lot easier for businesses.”

Two Rivers Border Post
She discloses that BURS has sanctioned customs officials at Two Rivers Border Post as a way of securing the border for any potential risks associated with money laundering and proliferation of terrorist funding.
In recognition of her efforts, Makgolo was elected to the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Council in December 2022, serving in the Research, Capacity Building Technical Assistance Committee. She received the Public Sector Women of the Year 2023 award at the African Public Sector Conference & Awards in Nairobi, Kenya where BURS also won an award for Best Use of Technology to Revolutionise Revolutionise CX.