BoB moves to set up Financial Stability Council
In a bid to close up and tighten oversight coordination, the Bank of Botswana in conjunction with the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will set up a Financial Stability Council.
Bank of Botswana Governor, Moses Pelaelo revealed this development at the launch of the 2018 Monetary Policy Statement on Tuesday at the central Bank headquarters. The Central Bank head said the Bank is currently in consultation with the Finance Ministry to ensure smooth establishment of this high level council.
Sharing more details on the proposed council Pelaelo said this high-level arrangement will primarily comprise of top officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Bank of Botswana and the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority with a primary focus on coordinated macro-prudential monitoring, analysis and response with respect to any financial system imbalances or distress.
“This recognizes the shared responsibilities for regulation and supervision of the financial system, as well as for the design and implementation of financial sector legislation, policies, regulatory and oversight frameworks,” he said. Pelaelo said the council will reinforce collaboration, cooperation and communication amongst the relevant authorities to achieve comprehensive monitoring and enforcement of legislation and regulations in order to maintain integrity and stability of the financial system.
According to the BoB Governor, the Financial Stability Council of Botswana is long overdue because similar institutional arrangements were long set across the world and were even reinforced following the 2007/08 global financial crisis. Pelaelo said coordinated oversight was vital because existing institutions were distinctly and individually supervised at a micro level noting that however the financial system encompasses interconnected relationships and activities and was subject to common and transferable risks.
“For example, in Botswana, households are net borrowers in their relationship with commercial banks and micro-lenders; however the picture changes significantly when taking into account non-discretionary savings in the form of pension funds which, in the main, belong to the households,” explained Pelaelo.
The Governor further elaborated that in turn, pension funds, corporates and other institutional investors were the largest depositors at commercial banks, giving an example of December 31st at which the aforementioned institutions accounted for approximately 76 percent of total deposits.
Pelaelo said the establishment of the council is vital, citing that institutional investors were also significant shareholders for the banks listed in the Botswana Stock Exchange. He noted that commercial banks were increasing their exposure to the property market, particularly desirable with respect to owner-occupied residential mortgages, while institutional investors are also heavily into property including financing the construction of shopping malls, thus vulnerable to common factors.
According to Moses Pelaelo the use of credit risk mitigation techniques, such as credit life insurance and guarantees, the insurance industry effectively serves as a warehouse of some risks emanating from lending institutions. The BoB Governor further indicated that the linkages between banks, non-bank financial institutions and financial exposure by businesses and households are intricate and symbiotic and, therefore, require a comprehensive oversight mechanism for the safety and soundness, as well as, the integrity of the financial system.
Pelaelo added that a process to set up the proposed council was in progress.
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Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW
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.
Food import bill slightly declines
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
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.