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Selebi Phikwe Town Council adopts P140 million budget

Selebi Phikwe Town Council (SPTC) has adopted the 2017/18 recurrent budget proposal amounting to P140 million. Presenting the budget proposal at a special full council meeting recently, the chairperson for the Finance and General Purposes Committee (FGPC), Councillor Moses Serite pointed out that the budget will be financed by the Revenue Support Grant and funds from the council’s own sources of revenue. The RSG represents 90% of the total budget while the council’s own sources of revenue accounts for 10%.

Councillor Serite noted that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has revised their budget requirements and due to financial constraints, released an RSG ceiling that is below requirements. He expressed concern over budgetary constraints experienced by council every financial year noting that “the gap between proposed and the approved budget is so wide such that extreme over expenditures are incurred”. He called for prudent financial management by all council departments to avoid budget deficit.

“Critical votes such as maintenance of grounds and buildings and maintenance of roads will be seriously compromised this financial year to cater for other votes. Votes such as relief of destitutes and provision of sanitary to schools can never be avoided lest we find ourselves compromising service delivery. These are welfare votes that council cannot forgo and as such they are given priority,” he cautioned.

He revealed that income from the council’s own source increased by three percent (3%) from the previous year with the main sources of own funding being property rates at 51%, staff housing at 13% and service levy seven percent (7%). These revenue sources together make up 71% of the council’s own source of revenue. The chairman however pointed out that other sources of financing are not reliable and collection is very minimal due to a number of challenges.

On expenditure, Serite said that the proposed budget is expected to be all used up by end of the financial year. He said the budget has increased by five percent (5%) from the 2017/18 approved budget, further explaining that the five percent increase will mainly be absorbed by personnel emoluments which constitute  60% of the proposed budget. The budget is categorised into four expenditure items being personnel emoluments, running expenses, establishment expenses as well as special items.

Human Resource and Administration Department was given the largest share of P26 million which represent 19% of the recurrent budget. Serite explained that the larger share is due to increase in lighting gas and water as well as an increase in domestic requisites. The second largest share of the budget went Civil and Mechanical Services with P22 million or 16% of the budget to cater for fleet replacement and maintenance of roads.

“Due to budgetary constraints the vote for maintenance of roads declined by 68% and maintenance of roads will on the other hand be funded through the fuel levy and constituency fund,” he explained. The third largest share of pie was allocated to the Department of Architecture and Buildings with a budget of P16million or 12% of the total budget. Serite also explained that the vote for maintenance of grounds and buildings has been reduced by 20% from the previous financial year due to budgetary constraints.

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Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW

20th March 2023

Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.

The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.

“In accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,” said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.

In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices.  Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.

“Community empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,” said Shah.

Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy,  Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.

“As a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economy’s productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,” said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.

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Food import bill slightly declines

20th March 2023

The latest figures released by Statistics Botswana this week shows that food import bill for Botswana slightly declined from around P1.1 billion in November 2022 to around P981 million in December during the same year.

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Moody’s Reaffirms African Trade Insurance’s A3 Rating & Revises Outlook to Positive

13th March 2023

Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) has affirmed the A3 insurance financial strength rating (IFSR) of the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) for the fifth consecutive year and changed the outlook from stable to positive.

Moody’s noted that the change in outlook to positive reflects the strong growth in ATI’s membership base – that has resulted in improved portfolio diversification, strengthened capital adequacy, and the good profitability despite the challenging operating environment. In addition, ATI benefits from its preferred creditor status (PCS) amongst sovereign member states which protects it from the risk of default by member sovereigns through securing recoveries against claims paid on guarantees.

The strong membership and equity growth are some of the key considerations for the consistent reinstatement of ATI’s A/Stable rating by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s rating, over the years. Also supporting the rating affirmation are; consistent improvement in financial performance, commitment of its shareholders who continue to uphold the preferred creditor status, its high quality and conservative investment portfolio as well as strong relationships with a number of global reinsurers that provide significant risk-bearing capacity.

With the change in outlook to “positive”, ATI is now better placed to provide enhanced support to its member countries, attract additional shareholding and grow its portfolio. The positive outlook is an indication that if ATI continues to demonstrate its strong underwriting performance and ability to recover claims under the preferred creditor arrangements, among other factors, an upward pressure towards an upgrade may be generated. The Moody’s press release can be accessed from here

Commenting on the rating, Africa Trade Insurance Chief Executive Officer Manuel Moses said: “This positive revision is in line with our 2023 – 2027 strategic objectives in which we set to improve our rating outlook to positive in the first year, and achieve an upgrade of at least “AA”/Stable rating by both Moody’s and S&P within this Strategic Plan period. We aim to achieve this by doubling our exposures and increasing our capital to more than USD1 billion.”

ATI’s mandate is to provide trade-credit and political risk insurance, as well as other risk mitigation products to its member countries and related public and private sector actors. These insurance products not only directly encourage and facilitate foreign direct investment as well as local private sector investment in our member countries, but also contribute to intra- and extra-African trade.

About The African Trade Insurance Agency 

ATI was founded in 2001 by African States to cover trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI predominantly provides Political Risk, Credit Insurance and, Surety Insurance. Since inception, ATI has supported US$78 billion worth of investments and trade into Africa. For over a decade, ATI has maintained an ‘A/Stable’ rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by Standard & Poor’s, and in 2019, ATI obtained an A3/Stable rating from Moody’s, which has now been revised to A3/Positive.

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