Barclays Bank of Botswana announced its financial results for the half year six month ended 30 June 2018, recording P260 million profit before tax mirroring a 4 percent growth year-on-year compared to the half year period ended June 2018.
When briefing its stakeholders and members of the media in Gaborone on Thursday morning, Barclays top brass observed that the performance attributable to growth in income, well contained costs as well as favourable credit losses. Deliberating on the financial figures Barclays Finance Director Mumba Kalifungwa said on a gross basis, interest income went up by 4 percent year-on-year despite the interest rate cut of 50bps in the last quarter of 2017.
Mumba, however highlighted that an increase in the interest cost of funding driven by market trends diluted Net interest income growth in the bank‘s net interest income resulting in flat figures year on year. Barclays further revealed a satisfactory net and commission income increase of 10 percent year –on –year during the period under review. “This is on the back of our focus on driving innovation through investment and enhancement of our digital channels,” explained Finance Director Mumba Kalifungwa.
The Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) listed banking outfit registered a 18 percent hike on net trading income attributable to increase in forex sales volumes. Kalifungwa noted that the bank’s continued focus on client acquisition and penetration had a positive impact on the net trading income growth. “Operating costs were well contained with business achieving a cost to income ratio of 54 percent which is in line with our strategic target of lower 50 s. Year on year costs grew by 6 percent ,largely driven by an increase in technology spend as part of the separation journey from Barclays PLC,” he said.
Barclays Finance chief also revealed that the bank was currently coming up with ways to manage and contain expenses. “We continue to exploit cost saving opportunities through a review in all our cost lines and various supplier contracts in order to identify opportunities for savings,” he said.
With regards to the new accounting standards IFRS 9 which was introduced beginning of January this year to replace the old IAS 39 Financial tool, Barclays says so far the new standards bring in a revised impairment model which requires entities to recognize expected credit losses based on unbiased forward-looking information.
“This replaces the existing IAS 39 incurred loss model which only recognizes impairment if there is objective evidence that a loss was already incurred and measured the loss on the most probable outcome, The day 1 impact of this change that was charged to our Retained earnings on the balance sheet amounted to an after tax amount of P129 million,” explained Mumba. Despite the more stringent accounting for the credit losses Barclays’s expected credit losses/impairments decreased by 12.3 percent in comparison to the prior period.
According to Finance Head the performance is predominantly due to enhanced collections capability and conservative credit extension to high risk sectors especially in the retail segment. Barclays outgoing Managing Director Reinette van der Merwe told stakeholders that the bank ‘s first 2018 half year results mirrored resilience as the business continues to operate in a highly competitive and modest local banking environment.
“This result were realized in the midst of various external challenges such as the declining credit growth across the sector, low interest rates and a general recovery commodity prices, this did not deter us from our ambition to be the leading financial services partner in Botswana,” she said. Van der Merwe noted that Barclays continues to make progress in supporting key segments in various sectors of the economy.
“We are excited to be part of a financial services group that Africa can be proud of, the transition from Barclays Group to Absa brand present a more modern, fast thinking and relevant organization that is truly an African bank that is for the people,” she said. Barclay’s balance sheet grew by 12 percent ending the half year period at 16.9 billion pula. According to bank Finance Boss the expansion was influenced by loans and advances to customers which increased by 14 percent year –on –year to 11.4 billion pula.
“The growth was fairly distributed across the segments in line with our strategy and continues to be focuses around prudent lending in our chosen business segments,” he said. Customer liabilities increased by 6 percent year on year driven by continued customer focus and penetration across all segments. Mumba noted that the growth compares favourably against the banking industry growth of 4 percent year –on –year.
“ We continue to strive to providing world-class customer services and products to existing and potential customers with a view to providing access to finance and various payment solutions, to this end we continue to focus on way of optimizing our balance sheet and the resultant funding sources” reiterated Kalifungwa. He added that given Barclays‘s strong profitability the bank’s return on equity remains solid at 22 percent and compares favourably against the banking industry average of 16.7 percent .
“Our regulatory capital position stood at 2 billion pula representing a ration of 19.4 percent against the regulatory minimum requirement of 15 percent, this is testament to how our balance sheet continues to remain prudently positioned with strong liquidity and capital levels, and sound provisioning for expected credit losses,” he said. The bank announced a proposed interim dividend payout of P80 million at 9.38 thebe per share subject to regulatory approval.
Barclays MD noted that in light of continued modest growth in household income as well as restrained economic expansion the bank remains mindful of challenges which call for continued caution while exploring opportunities within chosen segments. She added that the recently declared economic recession in South Africa posts possible challenges that will require close monitoring of expenditure and banking systems to remain operational with strong capital levels and internal capital generation capacity, she however observed that anticipated increased government spending sparks confidence as its likely to open new business opportunities in the market as well as increase house hold spending. “We are committed to deliver on our strategy and through endurance and tenacity, we remain optimistic of the future,” she said.
The partnership between Debswana and Botswana Oil Limited (BOL) which was announced a fortnight ago will create under 100 direct jobs, and scores of job opportunities for citizens in the value chain activities.
In a major milestone, Debswana and BOL jointly announced that the fuel supply to Debswana, which was in the past serviced by foreign companies, will now be reserved for citizen companies. The total value of the project is P8 billion, spanning a period of five years.
“About 88 direct jobs will be created through the partnership. These include some jobs which will be transferred from the current supplier to the new partnership,” Matida Mmipi, Head of Stakeholder Relations at Botswana Oil, told BusinessPost.
“We believe this partnership will become a blueprint for other citizen initiatives, even in other sectors of the economy. Furthermore, this partnership has succeeded in unlocking opportunities that never existed for ordinary citizens who aspire to grow and do business with big companies like Debswana.”
Mmipi said through this partnership, BOL and Debswana intend to impact citizen owned companies in the fuel supply value chain that include transportation, supply, facilities maintenance, engineering, customs clearance, trucks stops and its support activities such as workshop / maintenance, tyre services, truck wash bays among others.
“The number of companies to be on-boarded will be determined by the economics at the time of engagement,” she said. BOL will play a facilitatory role of handholding and assisting emerging citizen-owned fuel supply and fuel transportation companies to supply Debswana’s Jwaneng and Orapa Letlhakane Damtshaa (OLDM) mines with diesel and petrol for their operations.
“BOL expects to increase citizen companies’ market share in the fuel supply and transportation industries, which have over the years been dominated by foreign-owned suppliers. Consequently, the agreement will also ensure security of supply for Debswana operations, which are a mainstay of the Botswana economy,” Mmipi said.
“Furthermore, BOL will, under this agreement, transfer skills to citizen suppliers and transporters during the contract period and ensure delivery of competent and skilled citizen suppliers and transport companies upon completion of the agreement.”
Mmipi said the capacitating by BOL is limited to providing citizen companies oil industry technical capability and capacity to deliver on the requirements of the contract, when asked on helping citizen companies to access funding.
“BOL’s mandate does not include financing citizen empowerment initiatives. Securing funding will remain the responsibility of the beneficiaries. This could be through government financing entities including CEDA or through commercial banks. Further to this, there are financial institutions that have already signed up to support the Debswana Citizen Economic Empowerment Programme (CEEP),” Mmipi indicated.
While BOL is established by government as company limited by guarantee, it will not benefit financially from the partnership with Debswana, as citizen empowerment in the petroleum value chain is core to BOL’s mandate.
“BOL does not pursue citizen facilitation for financial benefit, but rather we engage in citizen facilitation as a social aspect of our mandate. Citizen facilitation comes at a cost, but it is the right thing to do for the country to develop the oil and gas industry,” she said.
Mmipi said supplying fuel to Debswana comes with commercial benefits such as supply margins. These have traditionally been made outside the country when supply was done by multi-nationals for a period spanning over 50 years. With BOL anchoring supply for Debswana, this benefit will accrue locally, and BOL will be able to pay taxes and dividends to the shareholders in Botswana.
PwC Africa has presented the eighth edition of the VAT in Africa Guide – Africa re-emerging. This backdrop of renewal informs on the re-emergence of African economies and societies which have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this edition, which has been compiled by PwC Africa’s indirect tax experts, covers a total of 41 African countries. It is geared towards sharing insight with our clients based on the constantly changing tax environments that can have a significant impact on business operations.
Within Africa, governments continue to focus on expanding the tax net by improving revenue collection through efficient compliance systems and procedures. PwC Africa has observed that revenue authorities also continue to take a keen interest in indirect taxes as part of revenue mobilisation initiatives.
Maturing VAT system and upskilling SARS
“In South Africa, VAT is becoming more relevant as a revenue source for the government,” says Matthew Besanko, PwC South Africa’s Indirect Tax Leader. “Strides have been made to upskill South African Revenue Service (SARS) staff and identify VAT revenue leakages, particularly in respect of foreign suppliers of electronic services to people and businesses in South Africa.”
Broadening the tax base and digital economy
In the past year, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe saw updates to their VAT legislation, or introduced specific legislation targeting electronically supplied services (ESS), which is in line with the global trend of attempting to tax the digital economy. “The expectation is that Botswana will also introduce VAT legislation in due course, while the National Treasury in South Africa has also made mention of revising the rules to account for further developments in the digital economy,” Besanko says.
South Africa’s National Treasury has also drafted legislation with the intention to introduce a reverse charge on gold, which is expected to come into effect later in 2022. While in Zimbabwe, revenue authorities have introduced a tax on the export of raw medicinal cannabis ranging between 10% and 20%, which came into effect on 1 January 2021.
ESG and carbon tax
Key strides have also been made within the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) space. “ESG leadership, strategising and reporting is essential now for organisations that wish to flourish and remain relevant,” Kabochi says. He adds that companies need to consider how ESG and tax intersect, since tax is a significant value driver when businesses need to deliver on their ESG goals.
In South Africa, a carbon tax regime, which is being implemented in three phases, has been adopted. The second phase was scheduled to start in January 2023, however phase one was extended by three years until 31 December 2025.
Until then, taxpayers will enjoy substantial tax-free allowances which reduce their carbon tax liability. At the beginning of 2022, the South African government increased the carbon tax rate to R144 (about US$9), which is expected to increase annually to enable South Africa to uphold its COP26 commitments.
With effect from 1 January 2023, carbon tax payers in South Africa will also be required to submit carbon budgets and adhere to the provisions of the carbon budgeting system which will be governed by the Climate Change Bill. Where set carbon budgets are exceeded, the government plans to impose penalties. “At PwC, we are continuously focused on our renewed global strategy, ” The New Equation,” Kabochi says. “Through this strategy, a key focus area for PwC Africa is to support clients in adding value to their ESG ambitions and building trust through sustained outcomes.”
The New Equation is also an acknowledgement of the fundamental changes in the business environment in which PwC’s clients and other stakeholders operate. PwC continues to reinvent and adapt to these changes as a community of problem solvers, combining knowledge and human-led technology to deliver quality services and value.
Local and international economists have lowered their projections on Botswana’s economic growth for 2022 and 2023, saying the country is highly likely to fail to maintain high growth rate recorded in 2021 hence will not reach initial forecasts.
Economists this week lowered 2022 forecasts for Botswana’s economic growth rate, from the initial 5.3% to 4.8% and added that in 2023 growth could further decline to 4.0%. The lower projections come on the backdrop of an annual economic growth that recovered sharply in 2021 with figures showing that year-on-year real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth increased to 11.4%, up from a contraction of 8.7% in 2020.
Economists from the local research entity, E-consult, this week stated that the 2021 double digit growth that exceeded projections made at the time of the 2022 budget may be short lived due to other developments taking place in the global economy. E-consult Economist Sethunya Kegakgametse stated that the war in Ukraine has worsened supply problems in the global economy and added that before the war, macroeconomic indicators were seen as improving and returning to pre-COVID levels.
According to the economist the global economy was projected to improve in 2022 and 2023. Recent figures show that global growth projections have been revised downwards from the initial forecast of 4.9% in 2022 with the World Bank’s new estimate for global growth in 2022 at 3.2%.
The statistics also shows that International Monetary Fund revised their growth projections for 2022 and 2023 down by 0.8% and 0.2% respectively, falling to 3.6% for both years. “The outbreak of war has severely dampened the global recovery that was under way following the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the economist.
She stated that despite Botswana being geographically removed from the conflict, the country has not and will not be exempt from the disruptions in the global economy. “The disruptions to global supply chains resulting from the war will have a negative effect on both Botswana’s growth and trade activities.
The economic sanctions against diamonds from Russia will add uncertainty to the market which will have knock on effects to Botswana’s growth, exports, and government revenues,” said the economists who added that the disruptions are driving prices up and result with very high inflation in the local economy.
Kegakgametse projected that in an attempt to limit inflation Bank of Botswana will be forced to raise interest rate “Should the sharp increase in both global and local inflation persist, Bank of Botswana much like other central banks around the world will be forced to raise interest rates in a bid to control rising prices. This would mean an end to the expansionary monetary policy stance that had been adopted post COVID-19 to aid economic growth,” she said.
In the latest projections, the UK based economic research entity Fitch Solutions lowered 2022 real GDP growth forecast for Botswana from 5.3% to 4.8% “In 2023, we see economic growth rate decelerating to 4.0%,” said Fitch Solutions economists who also noted that the 2022 and 2023 economic growth projections may come out lower than the current forecasts, as it is possible that new vaccine-resistant virus variants may be identified, which could result in the re-implementation of restrictions. “In such circumstances, we cannot rule out that Botswana’s economy may post weaker growth than our baseline scenario currently assumes,” said the economists.
According to the projections, Fitch Solution stated that there is limited scope for Botswana government to increase diamond production and exports, following the economic sanctions imposed on Russian diamond mining companies operating in Botswana. The research entity added that De Beers is unlikely to scale up diamond output from Botswana in order to prop up diamond prices.