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Botswana to export 48 tonnes beef to Seychelles

President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that Botswana has reached a deal with the Indian Ocean island of Seychelles to buy Botswana beef with a demand of 48 tonnes of meat per month. Masisi, en route home from China, he stopped by Seychelles where the trade deal was reached.  

Masisi revealed this new beef export venture at the 2018 National Business Conference session of  Conversation with The President where he was interviewed by Rand Merchant Bank’s Head of Client Coverage, Tshipidi Moremong. Masisi was asked by Moremong how he will deal with competition for FDI from new leaders like himself, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa and Zimbabwe’s Emerson Mnangagwa.  The two leaders, like Masisi, have gone out in saying they want to attract FDI to improve their respective countries economies.

Masisi said in this competition Botswana should be aggressive despite it having many disadvantages like small population, aridity and being landlocked. He said Botswana should use its resources like beef to its advantage and beat its competitors. Masisi gave the Seychelles latest beef export as a huge example of achievement on Botswana’s part.

“On our trip from China we stopped by Seychelles where we managed to identify a market demand of 48 tonnes of meat per month. The beef will be sold at EU prices and our farmers should benefit directly from that,” said Masisi during the National Business Conference.
According to an official who is privy to Masisi’s trip to Seychelles, it is not the first trip to the island by the president, as he went there May this year. The official also revealed that beef exportation by Botswana has been top of agenda since the start of the bilateral relationship.

The official confirmed that Masisi met with Seychelles President Danny Faure on September 8 in a one day official visit, which sealed the Botswana-Seychelles beef deal.Brazil has always been the major exporter of beef to Seychelles before the South American country’s beef exports was hit by a huge tainted meat scandal which marred the reputation of the country’s beef industry.

 Last year the international media was awash with reports that Brazilian meat producers were allegedly doling out bribes to food inspectors to approve meat that was either rotten or tainted with salmonella. The international community banned Brazil meat products and Seychelles joined other importers in a worldwide bid to reject the Brazillian meat products.  This means Botswana and other countries have found a new export niche in the Seychelles beef market. Botswana however will face stiff competition from Kenya who last year also sealed a beef exporting deal with the island.
 
Even though Seychelles is not known to have beef in its food as the main cuisine is mainly sea food, the islanders like their beef and the tourist hub country visitors are said to enjoy animal meat hence it being Botswana’s target market.At the recent National Business Conference Business Botswana President Gobusamang Keebine announced his intentions of growing the beef industry.

Keebine said since the last two years the private sector has been fighting to get beef export facilitator, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), efficient and competitive. The private sector president said they want to get rid of the BMC monopoly.

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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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