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BITC new CEO reveals five-year strategy

Botswana Investment & Trade Center (BITC) newly appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Keletsositse Olebile this week delivered a new strategic path for the investment wooing and trade facilitation agency.

 Olebile who has been with BITC since inception fully ascended   to the helm beginning of August this year after the organization went for more than a year without a substantive Chief Executive. This came about after both founding Chief Executive Sejoe Letsebe and Meshack Tshekedi’s resignations.  The latter was Acting CEO after the former resigned early 2017.

Mandated with facilitation of both Foreign and Domestic Investment, employment creation and export earnings value amongst others BITC was established in 2012 by an act of parliament as a merger between Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA) and the Botswana International Financial Services (IFSC) to become an integrated Investment and Trade Promotion Authority (ITPA).

Olebile revealed that since its inception in 2012 Botswana Investment Trade Centre  has delivered  annual corporate performance of around 80 percent on average with the least being 73.8 percent in the 2016/17 financial year.  “Overall performance as evaluated against strategic focus areas over the past five year as been above our 80 percent target on average at 83.95 percent, “he said.

Olebile explained that since its establishment BITC has delivered a total of over 12 billion pula in capital investment with Actual foreign Direct Investment accounting for 6.162 billion pula and Domestic Investment accounting for over 5.8 billion pula. “From all this a total of 11 881 jobs were created, this is measured from business facilitated and accredited by BITC only, we have taken a deliberate decision to gauge our performance within the investments we facilitated only, on the national economic space as per the Central Bank statistics and Statistics Botswana figures the number obviously in tens of volumes of billions more than this” he said.

Transiting from the  lapsing strategy which took-off in 2013 ending this year, Olebile shared that  the strategic direction was based on two themes, notably, ‘Effectiveness’ and ‘Growth’. He deliberated that the effectiveness theme focused on improvement of service effectiveness through effective coordination, technology optimization, service quality, process optimization and partner performance.

On the part of ‘Growth’ the just ended strategy  premised on expanding and growing the market through targeted promotion, service differentiation, focused value proposition, sector prioritization and optimization of funding opportunities. Going forward, after five years of formative years, setting-up of operational structures and creating cordial relationships with local economic growth stakeholders as well external investment promotion authorities, BITC now seeks to take investment promotion to the next level with a new 5 year strategy that will run from this year until 2023.

The new captain explained that his organization borrowed a number of lessons from the past strategy such as a compelling need to continuously raise the level of attractiveness of the country’s value offering to investors, the need for effective stakeholder alignment in facilitating opportunities for investors.  “We also took home the need to engage more in strategic advocacy agenda with various stakeholders,” he said.

Further deliberating on the new strategy Olebile echoed that the new path will be anchored around and aligned to Botswana‘s macro economics goals as outlined in the National Vision 2036; National Development Plan 11 and the Ministry of Investment, Trade & Industry (MITI) strategic plan.  “We seek to archive alignment to national plans and strategic objectives , for instance the National Vision 2036 already dictates to us the key sectors we have to promote , they are well defined in the document as Botswana ‘s national priorities,” he said.

With the new strategy national investment wooing vehicle also intends to align to global trends and best practice in a bid to keep the agency at par if not ahead of other competitors.  “We have crafted the strategy in such a way that it provides a window of continued updating and aligning of our deliverables to keep base and with times of evolving global economic & investment trends,“ noted Olebile.  

The CEO also echoed that the main strategic drive behind BITC’s support to the macro-economic landscape was anchored on positioning Botswana as a destination of choice for investment, to accelerate local and foreign investment and equally facilitate export development and promote the Nation’s Brand.

“With this new strategic blueprint we seek to transform BITC into a leading Investment and Trade Promotion Agency, and by extension, propel Botswana into a renowned and globally acclaimed trade and investment destination,” he said. Another key goal in the Botswana Investment & Trade Centre new paths is the ambition to expand revenue generated in-house.

Currently BITC‘s budget is 85 percent resourced by government subvention which is in the region of 95 million pula annually while 15 percent of the budget is self generated from in-house revenue sources such as 47 000 hectors of industrial factory shells rented to BITC accredited investors.

“Our aspiration also as per encouragement from our principals, being government, is to increase our self-generated income by exploring various avenues such as industrial property space, we seek to increasingly move towards winning ourselves from government funding, we believe with some of these targeted investments in property and other asset portfolios as permitted by underpinning act that established us we can ultimately with time relieve the government of the subvention funding.

BITC as the organization also tasked with the National image building and global awareness revealed that more deliberate actions will be taken to further package and promote Botswana‘s image and brand on the global space as an ideal  place for business. Bame Moremong, Executive Director of Brand Management Botswana shared that BITC has engaged Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) on how the country can leverage on the exceptional performance of local athletes on international competitions to raise further awareness on Brand Botswana and facilitate the investment attraction narrative. BITC revealed that going forward the institution would engage international media corporations such as BBC for raising global awareness about Botswana.

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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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