As Kgori Capital, an asset managing company continues to distance itself from the dealings of its former Managing Director (MD) and shareholder, Bakang Seretse, the company notes that it is steadily managing to survive the loss of the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) account.
The P 3.9 billion contract was terminated due to the former MD’s acknowledgement of acquiring funds from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) Account. As the company continues to maintain its position regarding the money laundering scandal, they highlight that the bad publicity has affected their business as they have lost a number of clients. Even though this may be the case, Kgori Capital notes that through all this they have continued serving many other clients. They further state that that among the remaining clients, there are a number of parastatals, Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed organisations and significant private pension funds.
Alphonse Ndzinge, The MD who took over the reins at the asset company which has had many mentions across media platforms has illustrated that as Kgori Capital they remain a solid business with a purpose to serve. “Kgori Capital will focus on doing what it set out to do from the day we opened our doors: to offer Botswana Funds the best home-grown solutions.”
The MD emphasizes that although they have lost clientele, they still categorically state that Kgori Capital is not being accused of laundering any funds as it is an entity not attached to Seretse. The money laundering charges relate to the transactions after the funds left our care, he says.
Ndzinge further explains that, Kgori Capital has throughout their BPOPF contract handling, only acted on an authorised instruction from the NPF. Regrettably, he says, they note that there continues to be suggestions which are not true that border on malicious intent to misrepresent the facts in the public domain. Kgori states that these maliciously damaging statements are made by senior individuals who do not know the particulars of the transaction.
The matter internally was simple, he explains. “For funds to be released from us at Kgori Capital, we needed to be assured of the validity of the instruction being given to us and had to be in line with the purpose of the Fund Order of the NPF and in both cases the MD confirms conditions were validated.” Ndzinge continued to explain that they as a Botswana owned company are working on ensuring that the funds they are asked to care-take of are used in the best way possible and to the best interest of the members of those funds.
Ndzinge has pointed out that repeatedly, as an organisation; they have done everything above board noting that Seretse’s dealings have nothing to do with them. “What Seretse is being accused of doing is in his personal capacity not as a former employee of Kgori Capital.” Based on this position, he explains that they have been able to continue doing great work in Botswana, for Batswana. He notes that besides the parting of ways with Seretse, their team remains intact as the response from the market is getting better.
The MD cites that they accept that by association their brand has been muddied by the actions of the former partner and MD and explains that they have made it a point of resolution to prove that a home grown Asset Management company that is 100 percent run and owned by Batswana can succeed in Botswana. He notes that the long list of foreign Asset Management companies in Botswana can never have Botswana and Batswana at the very core of their belief systems. Ndzinge cites that they are not a “post box” for foreign Asset Management companies offering distribution to offshore products.
He highlights that they will work hard to rebuild their brand and gain trust of the public and their market credibility. He further highlighted that they will work on demolishing the belief that Batswana are not competent to look after their own funds. Kgori Capital notes that the lifting of the restraining order which was placed on their funds to the value of P 15 million while the matter was in Court in relation to a disagreement on management fees charged NPF by Kgori Capital should be one of the motivating factor of the company’s involvement in the funds. Kgori Capital successfully challenged the court order on Friday, 9th March 2018 and the P15 million restraining order was lifted by the High Court.
Marcian Concepts have been contracted by Selibe Phikwe Economic Unit (SPEDU) in a P230 million project to raise the town from its ghost status. The project is in the design and building phase of building an industrial hub for Phikwe; putting together an infrastructure in Bolelanoto and Senwelo industrial sites.
This project comes as a life-raft for Selibe Phikwe, a town which was turned into a ghost town when the area’s economic mainstay, BCL mine, closed four years ago. In that catastrophe, 5000 people lost their livelihoods as the town’s life sunk into a gloomy horizon. Businesses were closed and some migrated to better places as industrial places and malls became almost empty.
However, SPEDU has now started plans to breathe life into the town. Information reaching this publication is that Marcian Concepts is now on the ground at Bolelanoto and Senwelo and works have commenced. Marcian as a contractor already promises to hire Phikwe locals only, even subcontract only companies from the area as a way to empower the place’s economy.
The procurement method for the tender is Open Domestic bidding which means Joint Ventures with foreign companies is not allowed. According to Marcian Concepts General Manager, Andre Strydom, in an interview with this publication, the project will come with 150 to 200 jobs. The project is expected to take 15 months at a tune of P230 531 402. 76. Marcian will put together construction of roadworks, storm-water drains, water reticulation, street lighting and telecommunication infrastructure. This tender was flouted last year August, but was awarded in June this year. This project is seen as the beginning of Phikwe’s revival and investors will be targeted to the area after the town has worn the ghost city status for almost half a decade.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has slashed its outlook the world economy projecting a significantly deeper recession and slower recovery than it anticipated just two months ago.
On Wednesday when delivering its World Economic Outlook report titled “A long difficult Ascent” the Washington Based global lender said it now expects global gross domestic product to shrink 4.9% this year, more than the 3% predicted in April. For 2021, IMF experts have projected growth of 5.4%, down from 5.8%. “We are projecting a somewhat less severe though still deep recession in 2020, relative to our June forecast,” said Gita Gopinath Economic Counsellor and Director of Research.
The struggle of humanity is now how to dribble past the ‘Great Pandemic’ in order to salvage a lean economic score. Botswana is already working on dwindling fiscal accounts, budget deficit, threatened foreign reserves and the GDP data that is screaming recession.
Latest data by think tank and renowned rating agency, Moody’s Investor Service, is that Botswana’s fiscal status is on the red and it is mostly because of its mineral-dependency garment and tourism-related taxation. Botswana decided to close borders as one of the containment measures of Covid-19; trade and travellers have been locked out of the country. Moody’s also acknowledges that closing borders by countries like Botswana results in the collapse of tourism which will also indirectly weigh on revenue through lower import duties, VAT receipts and other taxes.
Latest economic data shows that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2020 with a decrease of 27 percent. One of the factors that led to contraction of the local economy is the suspension of air travel occasioned by COVID-19 containment measures impacted on the number of tourists entering through the country’s borders and hence affecting the output of the hotels and restaurants industry. This will also be weighed down by, according to Moody’s, emerging markets which will see government losing average revenue worth 2.1 percentage points (pps) of GDP in 2020, exceeding the 1.0 pps loss in advanced economies (AEs).
“Fiscal revenue in emerging markets is particularly vulnerable to this current crisis because of concentrated revenue structures and less sophisticated tax administrations than those in AEs. Oil exporters will see the largest falls but revenue volatility is a common feature of their credit profiles historically,” says Moody’s. The domino effects of containment measures could be seen cracking all sectors of the local economy as taxes from outside were locked out by the closure of borders hence dwindling tax revenue.
Moody’s has placed Botswana among oil importers, small, tourism-reliant economies which will see the largest fall in revenue. Botswana is in the top 10 of that pecking order where Moody’s pointed out recently that other resource-rich countries like Botswana (A2 negative) will also face a large drop in fiscal revenue.
This situation of countries’ revenue on the red is going to stay stubborn for a long run. Moody’s predicts that the spending pressures faced by governments across the globe are unlikely to ease in the short term, particularly because this crisis has emphasized the social role governments perform in areas like healthcare and labour markets.
For countries like Botswana, these spending pressures are generally exacerbated by a range of other factors like a higher interest burden, infrastructure deficiencies, weaker broader public sector, higher subsidies, lower incomes and more precarious employment. As a result, most of the burden for any fiscal consolidation is likely to fall on the revenue side, says Moody’s.
Moody’s then moves to the revenue spin of taxation. The rating agency looked at the likelihood and probability of sovereigns to raise up revenue by increasing tax to offset what was lost in mineral revenue and tourism-related tax revenue. Moody’s said the capacity to raise tax revenue distinguishes governments from other debt issuers. “In theory, governments can change a given tax system as they wish, subject to the relevant legislative process and within the constraints of international law. In practice, however, there are material constraints,” says Moody’s.
‘‘The coronavirus crisis will lead to long-lasting revenue losses for emerging market sovereigns because their ability to implement and enforce effective revenue-raising measures in response will be an important credit driver over the next few years because of their sizeable spending pressures and the subdued recovery in the global economy we expect next year.’’
According to Moody’s, together with a rise in stimulus and healthcare spending related to the crisis, the think tank expects this drop in revenue will trigger a sizeable fiscal deterioration across emerging market sovereigns. Most countries, including Botswana, are under pressure of widening their tax bases, Moody’s says that this will be challenging. “Even if governments reversed or do not extend tax-easing measures implemented in 2020 to support the economy through the coronavirus shock, which would be politically challenging, this would only provide a modest boost to revenue, especially as these measures were relatively modest in most emerging markets,” says Moody’s.
Botswana has been seen internationally as a ‘tax ease’ country and its taxes are seen as lower when compared to its regional counterparts. This country’s name has also been mentioned in various international investigative journalism tax evasion reports. In recent years there was a division of opinions over whether this country can stretch its tax base. But like other sovereigns who have tried but struggled to increase or even maintain their tax intake before the crisis, Botswana will face additional challenges, according to Moody’s.
“Additional measures to reduce tax evasion and cutting tax expenditure should support the recovery in government revenue, albeit from low levels,” advised Moody’s. Botswana’s tax revenue to the percentage of the GDP was 27 percent in 2008, dropped to 23 percent in 2010 to 23 percent before rising to 27 percent again in 2012. In years 2013 and 2014 the percentage went to 25 percent before it took a slip to decline in respective years of 2015 up to now where it is at 19.8 percent.