Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC) has revealed its plan to take advantage of the refurbished Kasane International Airport, to lure more investors into the country.
The new airport, which was refurbished at the cost of P430 million, have seen a significant improvement of the Air Traffic Control Tower comprising four level, fire station, technical building as well as a police station. The new Kasane Airport terminal measures 7800 square metres as compared to the original one which was 1300 square metres, a significant 500 percent increase in size.
BITC Corporate Communications Director, Kutlo Moagi said the they have, as part of improving broadband connectivity and keeping up with global trends ensured availability of complimentary wi-fi access to all the four international airports, the latest beneficiary being the Kasane International Airport. BITC alongside Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), were part of the commissioning of the new Kasane International Airport.
“Access to internet or connectivity is an enabler for doing business. As part of improving our ease of Doing Business and to remain globally competitive as a country, it is imperative that we continually strive to eliminate all impediments to doing business,” said Moagi. “As part of accessing the complimentary internet services, users will be required to answer some basic questions relating to their experience with immigration as well as the purpose of their visit into Botswana.”
Moagi said their initiative is another smart way through which BITC can gauge themselves in terms of the quality of service that they deliver. “It goes without a saying that internet connectivity is the backbone of any country’s development. This will give a good indication of our customer service standards at all our point of entries,” she said. “Providing world class service to our customers remains of one of the catalysts through which we can remain competitive as a country.”
Moagi said through BOFINET, which is the provider of the infrastructure, there are plans to further roll out broadband infrastructure to more commercial and government premises. BITC came into being in 2012, following the decision to merge then Botswana Export Development Investment Authroty (BEDIA) with Botswana International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) by Parliament.
BITC is an integrated Investment and Trade Promotion Authority (ITPA) with an encompassing mandate of investment promotion and attraction, export promotion, and development, including management of the Nation Brand. Through its critical role within Botswana’s economy, BITC’s mandate is also to encourage domestic investment and expansion, to promote locally manufactured goods to regional and international markets, to contribute towards improvement of the investment climate through policy advocacy, increases citizen participation in the economy and creates sustainable job opportunities.
The Kasane Airport, which is located in one of the world’s most tourism rich areas was officially opened by President Lt Gen Ian Khama on Wednesday this week. Khama stated that government has always recognised the enabling and critical role played by air transportation in the economy of Botswana. He said aviation contributes significantly towards tourism, trade, investment and the travel industry as whole.
“It is through this realisation that we have deliberately decided to invest substantially in the development and improvement of our airports and other related infrastructure, including suitable aircraft investments,” Khama said. “Kasane is a gateway into the Chobe region and the rest of Southern Africa at the confluence of the Chobe and Zambezi rivers where four countries share the border. Kasane International Airort project provides access to one of the country’s pristine tourism regions and continues the government’s drive to deliver improved infrastructure to meet passenger demands into, and out of the country.”
The Kasene airport, which started operating in 19991 have seen an increase in aviation activities according to President Khama. In 1999, the Kasane Airport terminal building handled 30 674 passengers compared to 96 975 today, a growth of over 68 percent.
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.