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Botswana scores 70% in economic freedom

The 2019 Index of Economic Freedom puts Botswana’s score at 70%, making its economy the 36th freest in the 2019 Index. Its overall score has decreased by 0.4 point, with declines in judicial effectiveness, government integrity, and fiscal health exceeding improvements in the score for tax burden, labor freedom, and government spending.

Botswana is ranked 3rd among 47 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is above the regional and world averages. Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana has transformed itself from one of the world’s poorest countries to a middle-income country. Economic policy is guided by the government’s efforts to diversify the economy away from dependence on the volatile mining sector and towards agriculture, services, and manufacturing. The regulatory environment encourages growth, and openness to foreign investment and trade promotes competitiveness and resilience. The independent judiciary provides strong protection of property rights.

Sparsely populated Botswana has a land area larger than Spain and is dominated by the vast Kalahari Dessert. Botswana has abundant diamond and other natural resources, a market oriented economy, and one of Africa’s highest sovereign credit ratings, and ecotourism in its extensive nature preserves is helping to diversify the economy.

The 2019 Index further says increase in Botswana’s property rights and intellectual property rights scores caused its overall score in the Property Rights Alliance’s 2017 International Property Rights to improve as well. Courts enforce commercial contracts. Botswana remain rated the African continent’s least corrupt country, but there are almost no restrictions on the private business activities of public servants, and an increase in tender-related corruption has been reported.

The top personal income tax rate is 25 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 22 percent. Other taxes include property, inheritance, and value-added taxes. The overall tax burden equals 24.9% of total domestic income. Over the past three years, government spending has amounted to 33.7 percent of the country’s output, and budget deficits have averaged 1.8% of GDP. Public debt is equivalent to 15.6% of GDP

The regulatory environment protects the overall freedom to establish and run a business relatively well. A one-stop shop for entrepreneurs is in place, and the process for business closings has become easy and straightforward. Employment regulations are relatively flexible, maize, diesel, and petroleum are subject to price controls, and the government continues other subsidies through state-owned enterprises.

The combined value of exports and imports is equal to 97.1% of GDP. The average applied tariff rate if 0.6%. As of June 30 2018, according to WTO, Botswana had 21 nontariff measures in force. Foreign investment in some sectors is restricted. Generally, adhering to global standards in the transparency of banking supervision, the financial sector provides considerable access to credit and has expanded.

Meanwhile, Botswana recorded a trade gap of P339.5 Million in May 2019 compared to P2.5 Million surpluses in the same month a year ago. Imports soared 56% of P6,5 Million, boosted by acquisitions of diamonds at 425%. Main imports partners were South Africa at the value of 53% of total imports, followed by Canada 20.1%, France 5.8% and Russia 5.6%. In contrast, exports declined 9.6% to P6 Million, amid lower sales of diamonds (-8.3%); machinery and electrical equipment (-26.8) and vehicles and transport equipment (-49.9%).

Main export partners were Belgium at 24% of total sales, India 20%, the UAE 17.4% and South Africa 8.4%. Balance of Trade averaged P-96.72 Million from 2005 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of P4102.21 Million in March 2017 and a record low of P-6683 Million in July of 2012.

Balance of Trade in Botswana is expected to be -116.59 Million Pula by the end of this quarter, according to the Trading Economics Global Macro Models and analyst’s expectations. Looking forward, Balance of Trade in Botswana is estimated to stand at -91.10 in 12 months’ time. In long-term the Botswana Balance of Trade is projected to trend around P255 Million in 2020, according to Trading Economics models.

Money supply in Botswana decreased to P170 Million in April from P175 Million in March 2019. Money supply averaged P121 Million from 2008 until 2019, reaching an all-time of P181 Million in October of 2018 and a record low of P652 Million in October 2009.
Central Bank Balance Sheet in Botswana increased to P77275 Million in April from P74225 Million in March 2019. Central Bank Balance Sheet in Botswana averaged P68852.80 Million from 2007 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of P89975 Million in April 2015 and a record low of P50627 Million in January 2007.

Bank Lending Rate in Botswana remained unchanged at 6.5% in May from 6.5% in April 2019. It averaged 9.4% from 2009 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of 17% in January 2009 and a record low of 6.5% in October 2017. The Bank Lending Rate is expected to be 6.8% by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economic Global Macro Models and Analysts expectations. Looking forward, analysts estimate Bank Lending Rate in Botswana to stand at 6% in 12 months’ time. In the long-term, the Botswana Bank Lending rate is projected to trend around 6.8% in 2010.

In Botswana, the bank lending rate is weighted average rate of interest charged on loans by commercial banks to private individuals and companies. Consumer Credit in Botswana increased to P361 Million in May from P355 Million in April 2019. It averaged P202 Million from 2007 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of P361 Million in May 2019 and a record low of P632 Million in January 2007.

Loans to Private Sector in Botswana decreased to P228 31,20 Million in May from P228 61,39 Million in April 2019. The sector is averaged P144 Million from 2007 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of P232 Million in November 2018 and a record low of P437 Million in January 2007. Foreign Direct Investment in Botswana increased by P745 Million in the first quarter of 2019. It is averaged P886 Million from 2004 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of P363 Million in the fourth quarter of 2015 and a record low of P-143 Million in the first quarter of 2016.

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Botswana economic recovery depends on successful vaccine rollout – BoB

5th May 2021

Bank of Botswana (BoB) has indicated that the rebounding of domestic economy will depended on successful vaccine roll-out which could help business activity to return to its post pandemic days.

Projections by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggest a rebound in economic growth for Botswana in 2021.

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Inside the UB-BDF fighter Jet tragedy report

5th May 2021

Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.

Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”

Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”

The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.

“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.

Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.

Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.

Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.

Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”

In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”

Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.

“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.

Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.

Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.

He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”

Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.

“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.

One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.

A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.

Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.

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Uphill battle in Khama’s quest to charge Hubona

5th May 2021

A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.” 

Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.

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