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Over a million people have access to banking services – Bank of Botswana



Over 1.1 million people now have access to banking services in the country, translating to 70 percent of the adult population and an increase of 10.7 percent compared to 2017, the Bank of Botswana (BoB) announced in its Banking Supervision Annual Report for 2018.



In 2017, the bankable adult population stood at 64.4 percent translating to one million people then.

"Access to banking services, as measured by the ratio of number of depositors to adult population, improved from 64.4 percent in 2017 to 70 percent in 2018. The number of depositors grew by 10.7 percent from 1 million in 2017 to 1.1 million in 2018, while adult population increased by 2.1 percent from 1.56 million," the BoB said.



During the period under review, Botswana had 10 licensed commercial banks and three statutory banks.

"During 2018, five bureaux de change were licensed, while nine bureaux de change licences were revoked.  As a result, the number of licensed bureaux de change decreased from 61 in 2017 to 56 in 2018," BoB said in its review of the banking sector operations in 2018.

The ongoing restructuring operations by banks resulted in the opening of new branches and closure of some.  As a result, banking operations increased from 143 to 147 in 2018. 

The number of automated teller machines (ATMs) also increased from 473 to 523.

"Most of the new ATMs have more functions, including deposit taking capabilities, thus improving convenient access to transactional banking services.  With respect to geographical distribution of the branch network, the South East District, which includes the capital city, Gaborone, led the concentration of branches at 64, followed by the Central District at 33. 

Central District had an increase of one branch, while the branch network for the other districts was unchanged," BoB said.

Commercial banks maintained a dominant share of total industry asset , deposits, loans and advances compared to statutory banks.  On the other hand, the market shape of statutory banks fell slightly with respect to total assets, deposits, loans and advances, with 6.7 percent, 5.8 percent and 7.7 percent at the end of 2018, respectively, compared to 7.5 percent, 6 percent and 8.1 percent in 2017.



"Five banks continued to dominate the banking sector and accounted for 88.7 percent, 87.9 percent and 87.8 percent of total assets, total deposits, and total loans and advances, respectively, in 2018, although slightly lower than the respective proportions of 89.5 percent, 88.5 percent and 88.7 percent reported in 2017."

On pension fund assets, the ratio fell from 45.5 percent in 2017 to 41.6 percent in 2018, owing to a slight decrease of 3.7 percent in valuation of pension funds.

"
 

The aggregate household savings in the banking sector and pension funds was P92.8 billion compared to the household borrowing of P35.1 billion.  On this measure, the household sector was, therefore, a net saver in the economy," BoB said.

It added that total loans and advances were at P58.3 billion compared to P54.2 billion in 2017, while foreign currency dominated loans increased by 19.1 percent.
"As result, the ratio of foreign currency dominated loans to gross loans and advances increased to 7.8 percent in 2018, while it was 7.1 percent in 2018.

"All banks complied with the Foreign Currency Exposure Directive by maintaining foreign currency exposure to unimpaired capital ratios within the required 15 percent, five percent and 30 percent limits for major, minor and overall foreign currency exposures,
respectively."



Total credit to the household sector increased by 6.2 percent from P33.1 billion in 2017 to P35.1 billion.  The shape of mortgages, however, declined to 27 percent in 2018 compared to 28 percent in 2017, while the proportions for credit cards and motor vehicles were unchanged at three percent and five percent respectively.

The private sector maintained the highest share of deposits of 71 percent, while the share deposits for the public (Government and Parastatals) and household  sector remained at nine percent and 20 percent, respectively, in the same period.

On employment in the banking sector, BoB said the number of people directly employed increased from 5 176 in 2017 to 5 270, representing a 1.8 percent growth, albeit at a slower pace than the 2.4 percent in 2017.

"

While there was an increase in staff complement for some banks, there was a decrease with respect to seven banks.  The decline in employment at these banks was due to retrenchments, staff resignation and closure or merging of branches by some banks.

"The number of expatriates employed by the banking industry fell from 66 in 2017 to 60 in 2018.  Overall, the staff complement for small banks increased by 3.1 percent, from 485 in 2017 to 500 in 2018, for the large banks, the level of employment rose by 2.2 percent from 4 137 in 2017 to 4 226," the BoB announced.

Banks also continued to diversify, develop and improve their products and services to meet evolving customer needs and to accommodate and harness industry and market innovation in areas of potential business growth.

"

During 2018, banks introduced 14 new products and services covering a wide range of banking services, namely, transactional accounts and mobile-banking services were designed to foster growth of customer base and retention of existing ones (thus financial inclusion), hence mainly featured enhancements and lower service fees," it said.

The BoB also conducted on site examination of 10 bureaux de change to access their compliance with the Bank's regulations.

"The on-site examination indicated that one bureau de change complied with all the provisions of the regulations, while all others violated various aspects of the provisions of regulations.  Six bureaux de change were fined a total of P12 320 for violating regulations. 

Two bureaux de change were cautioned for non-compliance, while another had its licence suspended for three months.  The suspended bureau de change subsequently ceased operation and voluntarily surrendered its licence," the Bank said.

It noted that most of the recurring violations by bureaux de change related to failure to take reasonable measures to obtain information about the true identity of persons on whose behalf financial transactions were conducted and failure to continually train employees.

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020
Botswana-on-high-alert-as-AML-joins-Covid-19-to-plague-mankind-

This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.

The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.

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Finance Committee cautions Gov’t against imprudent raising of debt levels

21st September 2020
Finance Committe Chairman: Thapelo Letsholo

Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.

He was speaking in  Parliament on Tuesday delivering  Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a  motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.

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Gov’t Investment Account drying up fast!  

21st September 2020
Dr Matsheka

Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.

The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.

The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.

The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.

This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.

Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.

Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.

However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.

Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.

When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.

This  as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.

Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.

The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.

Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.

In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.

Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.

Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.

Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.

Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance   Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”

He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”

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