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Friday, 19 April 2024

BITC fully behind IFSC fiscal framework

Business

Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), has affirmed that the controversial International Finance Service Centre (IFSC) fiscal framework remains a key instrument in its investment attraction tool. BITC, the country‘s integrated trade and investment promotion agency established to position Botswana as a global business and investment destination

Responding to WeekendPost inquiry this week,  BITC  communication chief, Kutlo Moagi said the organization actively supports and promotes the IFSC fiscal framework as a key instrument in positioning Botswana as a financial services hub for financial services companies inclusive of International Holding Companies. Compared to the normal 22 percent, the fiscal framework accords beneficiary companies corporate tax of 15 percent, which is one of the lowest in Africa.

The IFSC framework also provides that qualifying and accredited companies denominate capital in any major international convertible currency, with no exchange controls enabling the companies to repatriate profits dividends with no restrictions.  The framework which is enjoyed by companies such as Letshego, Motorvac amongst others also provides that no capital gains tax when disposing of fixed assets where shareholding of the IFSC company is in excess of 25 percent.

IFSC companies also enjoy unilateral tax credits of up to 15 percent for taxes incurred in jurisdictions where Botswana does not have a double taxation agreement. Other IFSC benefits are zero rated VAT and no withholding taxes on dividends when distributing to non-resident directors.BITC was established in 2012, birthed from Botswana Export Development & Investment Agency (BEDIA) to house and facilitate all investment, trade and export led economy development initiatives including the IFSC under one roof.

However, the latter has been underscored by various global economic and financial commentators such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) as a window used by elites to rake in all returns eroding national tax bases and compromising domestic resources mobilisation systems. OECD observes that tax exemptions such as IFSC fiscal framework have little impact on investment attraction but only cripple the country‘s revenue collection vehicles.

OECD contend that under pressure to offer internationally-competitive tax environments, developing countries offer generous tax breaks that undermine their domestic resource mobilization efforts with little demonstrable benefit in terms of increased investment.  Botswana has been cited as one good example for such. The underlying concern by OECD is that low income countries often face acute pressures to attract investment by offering tax incentives, which then erode the countries’ tax bases with little benefit even after running for several years.

Contrary to the argument that Botswana loses money on tax cuts to IFSC companies that could otherwise be mobilised for other key economic undertakings such as infrastructure to further enable investment BITC said the IFSC dispensation, despite the financial sector not being labour intensive it has the propensity to create skilled jobs that are synonymous with the sector for  Batswana.

“As a consequence of the framework insisting on a physical presence (Office) as opposed to brass plating, indirectly this contributes to business tourism in the form of shuttle services, lodging, dining fees when non-resident directors visit their head offices,” explained BITC Chief Executive Officer Keletsositse Olebile few weeks ago.

The investment promotion boss who championed Botswana ‘s campaign against the tax haven tag in 2014  told  this publication this week  that as subsidiaries consolidate into Botswana the Botswana Government benefits from Taxes it would not have earned if the IFSC incentive framework was not in Place. “Again, as these companies establish their substantive presence in Botswana, property rentals are also a benefit realised from their presence,” he said.

Olebile also added that some IFSC companies are keen to capital raise in the local bourse which improves growth and liquidity of the local bourse adding that indirect benefits to economy include renting office space, banking services, amongst others. According to BITC, since inception of this fiscal arrangement a total of 56 IFSC companies have set-up in Botswana creating 280 jobs and investing P29 billion.

From 2013 to date, BITC accredited and recommended 18 companies to be IFSC certified by Minister of Finance with 196 corresponding jobs. Letshego Holdings is one of BITC’s flagship IFSC companies. It has been underscored by OECD and European countries led by France that tax incentives and exceptions such as IFSC were a window for exorbitant tax dodging, money laundering and illicit financial crimes, under these sentiments Botswana was accused of having a secretive tax system with tax haven jurisdictions that bleeds the country’s public funds.

Botswana is reported  to lose over P80 billion every  10 years ,  citing from 2003- 2012, due to corporate tax dodging and money laundering, which  according to International Finance Organization Oxfam is sometimes encouraged by arrangements such as tax exemptions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also spoken against Botswana’s weak domestic fund mobilisation mechanism. In its report released in June this year, the IMF urged Botswana to reform its entire revenue collection system and framework.

 “It would be important to remove many tax exemptions, increase property taxation, and consider making the personal income tax more progressive,” reads the report which was released first week on June this year. IMF advised Botswana that tax was vital in boosting the country’s administrative, fiscal and institutional capacity adding that tax revenue was very essential for any developing country to function.

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Business

LLR transforms from Company to Group reporting

9th April 2024

Botswana Stock Exchange listed diversified real estate company, Letlole La Rona Limited (“LLR” or “the Company” or “the Group”), posted its first set of group financial statements which comprise the Company and Group consolidated accounts, which show strong financial performance for the six months ended 31 December 2023, with improvements across all key metrics.

The Company commenced the financial year with the appointment of a Deputy Chairperson, Mr Mooketsi Maphane, in order to bolster its governance and enhance leadership continuity through the development of a Board and Executive Management Succession Plan.

At operational level, LLR increased its shareholding in Railpark Mall from 32.79% to 57.79% and proudly took over the management of this prime asset.

The CEO of LLR, Ms Kamogelo Mowaneng commented “During the period under review, our portfolio continued to perform strongly, with improvements across all key metrics as a result of our ongoing focus on portfolio growth and optimisation.

“We are pleased to report a successful first half of the 2024 financial year, where we managed to not only grow the portfolio through strategic acquisitions and value accretive refurbishments but also recycled capital through the disposal of Moedi House as well as the ongoing sale of section titles at Red Square Apartments. The acquisition of an additional 25% stake in JTTM Properties significantly uplifted the value of our investment portfolio to P2.0 billion at a Group level. Our investment portfolio was further differentiated by the quality of our tenant base, as demonstrated by above market occupancy levels of 99.15% and strong collections of above 100% for the period”.

The growth in contractual revenue of 9% from the prior year’s P48.0 million to the current year P52.2 million, increased income from Railpark Mall, coupled with high collection rates, has enabled the company to declare a distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit, which is in line with the prior year.

 

In line with its strategic pillars of ‘Streamlined and Expanded Botswana Portfolio’ as well as ‘Quality African Assets’, the Group continuously monitors the performance of its investments to ensure that they meet the targeted returns.

“The Group continues to explore yield accretive opportunities for balance sheet growth and funding options that can be deployed to finance that growth” further commented the CEO of LLR Ms Kamogelo Mowaneng.

Ms Mowaneng further thanked the Group’s stakeholders for their continued support and stated that they look forward to unlocking further value in the Group.

 

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Business

Botswana’s Electricity Generation Dips 26.4%

9th April 2024

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has reported a significant decrease in electricity generation for the fourth quarter of 2023, with output plummeting by 26.4%. This decline is primarily attributed to operational difficulties at the Morupule B power plant, as per the latest Botswana Index of Electricity Generation (IEG) released recently.

Local electricity production saw a drastic reduction, falling from 889,535 MWH in the third quarter of 2023 to 654,312 MWH in the period under review. This substantial decrease is largely due to the operational challenges at the Morupule B power plant. Consequently, the need for imported electricity surged by 35.6% (136,243 MWH) from 382,426 MWH in the third quarter to 518,669 MWH in the fourth quarter. This increase was necessitated by the need to compensate for the shortfall in locally generated electricity.

Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation Limited (ZESCO) was the principal supplier of imported electricity, accounting for 43.1% of total electricity imports during the fourth quarter of 2023. Eskom followed with 21.8%, while the remaining 12.1, 10.3, 8.6, and 4.2% were sourced from Electricidade de Mozambique (EDM), Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), Nampower, and Cross-border electricity markets, respectively. Cross-border electricity markets involve the supply of electricity to towns and villages along the border from neighboring countries such as Namibia and Zambia.

Distributed electricity exhibited a decrease of 7.8% (98,980 MWH), dropping from 1,271,961 MWH in the third quarter of 2023 to 1,172,981 MWH in the review quarter.

Electricity generated locally contributed 55.8% to the electricity distributed during the fourth quarter of 2023, a decrease from the 74.5% contribution in the same quarter of the previous year. This signifies a decrease of 18.7 percentage points. The quarter-on-quarter comparison shows that the contribution of locally generated electricity to the distributed electricity fell by 14.2 percentage points, from 69.9% in the third quarter of 2023 to 55.8% in the fourth quarter. The Morupule A and B power stations accounted for 90.4% of the electricity generated during the fourth quarter of 2023, while Matshelagabedi and Orapa emergency power plants contributed the remaining 5.9 and 3.7% respectively.

The year-on-year analysis reveals some improvement in local electricity generation. The year-on-year perspective shows that the amount of distributed electricity increased by 8.2% (88,781 MWH), from 1,084,200 MWH in the fourth quarter of 2022 to 1,172,981 MWH in the current quarter. The trend of the Index of Electricity Generation from the first quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2023 indicates an improvement in local electricity generation, despite fluctuations.

The year-on-year analysis also reveals a downward trend in the physical volume of imported electricity. The trend in the physical volume of imported electricity from the first quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2023 shows a downward trend, indicating the country’s continued effort to generate adequate electricity to meet domestic demand, has led to the decreased reliance on electricity imports.

In response to the need to increase local generation and reduce power imports, the government has initiated a new National Energy Policy. This policy is aimed at guiding the management and development of Botswana’s energy sector and encouraging investment in new and renewable energy. In the policy document, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Lefoko Moagi stated that the policy aims to transform Botswana from being a net energy importer to a self-sufficient nation with surplus energy for export into the region. Moagi expressed confidence that Botswana has the potential to achieve self-sufficiency in electric power supply, given the country’s readily available energy resources such as coal and renewable sources.

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Business

MMG acquires Khoemacau in a transaction valued at P23Bn

9th April 2024

MMG Limited, the Hong Kong-based mining company specializing in base metals, has successfully concluded the acquisition of Khoemacau Copper Mine, a state-of-the-art, world-class copper asset nestled in the northwest of Botswana.

On Monday, MMG announced that the acquisition of Khoemacau Mine in Botswana was finalized on 22nd March 2024. “This acquisition enriches the company’s portfolio with a top-tier, transformative growth project and signifies a monumental milestone in the Company’s journey,” MMG communicated in an official statement published on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Upon completion of the acquisition, MMG remitted to the Sellers an Aggregate Consideration of approximately US$1,734,657,000 (over P23 billion), a sum subject to potential adjustments post-Completion.

In addition to the Aggregate Consideration, MMG, in accordance with the Agreement, advanced an aggregate amount of approximately US$348,580,000 (over P4.5 billion) as the Aggregate Debt Settlement Amount, to settle certain debt balances of the Target Group (Cuprous Capital/Khoemacau).

On November 21, 2023, Khoemacau announced that the shareholders of its parent company [Cuprous Capital] had agreed to sell 100% of their interests to MMG Limited.

MMG is a global resources company that mines, explores, and develops copper and other base metals projects on four continents. The company is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, and has a significant shareholder, China Minmetals Corporation, which is China’s largest metals and minerals group owned by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

On December 22, 2023, Khoemacau Copper Mining (Pty) Ltd received the approval from the Minister of Minerals and Energy of Botswana regarding the transfer of a controlling interest in the Project Licenses and Prospecting Licenses associated with the Khoemacau Copper Mine, a result of the Acquisition.

 

The Botswana Competition & Consumer Authority (CCA) on January 29, 2024, notified the market that it had given its approval for the takeover of Khoemacau Copper Mining by MMG Limited.

On January 29, 2024, the CCA issued a merger decision to the market, stating that after conducting all necessary assessments, it was ready to proceed.

The Competition Authority affirmed that the structure of the relevant market would not significantly change upon implementation of the proposed merger as the proposed transaction is not likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition, nor endanger the continuity of service in the market of mining of copper and silver ores and the production, and sale or supply of copper concentrate in Botswana.

Furthermore, the CCA stated that the proposed merger would not have any negative impact on public interest matters in Botswana as per the provisions of section 52(2) of the Competition Act 2018.

Earlier this month, Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Maxwell Moagi, informed parliament that his Ministry was endorsing the Khoemacau acquisition by MMG Limited. He noted that not only was the company acquiring the existing operation but also committing to an expansion program that would cost over $700 million to double production, create more jobs for Batswana, and increase taxes and royalties paid to the Government.

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