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Parastatals with overlapping mandates to be merged

Government has already started a process to rationalize and merge some parastatals with overlapping mandates, Minister of Investment, Trade & Industry (MITI), Vincent Seretse revealed to Parliament on Wednesday.

This is predominantly in the interest of reducing weight from government as the parastatals cost government hundreds of millions of pula. Seretse revealed to parliament that 80% of his ministry’s total recurrent budget allocation goes to funding these parastatals. Stakeholders and economic experts, as well as some politicians have been calling for an extensive review of parastatals and State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

Seretse was responding to a question asked by Specially Elected Member of Parliament Bogolo Kenewendo. She asked Seretse to state the number of parastatals and government owned companies under his ministry and if there were plans to streamline and merge some. In his response the Minister revealed that MITI housed eight parastatals and three state owned enterprises, making it a total of eleven.

Parliament was made aware that in the 2017/18 financial year MITI channelled over 753 million pula to its nine parastatals which include Citizen Entrepreneurial Agency (CEDA), Botswana Investment and Trade Centre  (BITC) and Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) amongst others compared to P721 563 220 spent in the previous financial year being 2016/17.

Figures indicate that CEDA has been receiving the largest share of this money from the past five financial years. In 2013/14 CEDA received over 340 million pula and in the ending financial year (2017/18) the agency received over 298 million pula.
Further responding to Kenewendo, Minister Seretse underscored that under the context of CEDA which is a financing agency to promote entrepreneurship amongst locals suggestions were already made proposing its merger with Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) and /or National Development Bank (NDB). NDB is under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.


For the past five years, BDC has not received any subvention from government and has declared a dividend of over P113 million to government whereas NDB has been making losses and is constantly bailed out by government. Meanwhile Minister Matambo revealed in the 2018 budget speech that across all government ministries, parastatals and state owned enterprises were not doing well.

Matambo said state-owned enterprises (SOEs) exist to support Government’s development efforts adding that their performance was  critical in achieving Government’s broad development objectives of boosting economic growth, promoting economic diversification, and creating employment opportunities.

Matambo conceded the fact that government, like any other shareholder, expects a return on investment in some of these organizations. “It is therefore important that these organizations are held accountable for the public resources entrusted to them by requiring them to provide a certain minimal return on capital, and contribute to economic growth and employment creation,” he said.

Matambo shared that last year,  Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited registered  a  net profit of P237.3 million, compared to a net loss of P370.8 million in 2016; Botswana Housing Corporation also performed well  with a net profit of P48.5 million in 2017, compared to P27.9 million in 2016; Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority made a profit of P50.8 million in 2017, compared to P43.6 million in 2016; and Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) made a profit of P15.5 million in 2017, compared to P12.8 million in 2016.

However the perennial loss making State-owned enterprise that has become a cause of national concern is Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) with a net loss of P229.7 million in 2016, compared to a net profit of P332.6 million in 2015. The net profit realized in 2015 was due to a Government cash injection of P600 million.

NDB also recorded a net loss of P168.2 million in 2017, compared to a net loss of P21.2 million in 2016, whereas Botswana Power Corporation registered a net loss of P140.2 million in 2017, compared to a net loss of P99.6 million in 2016. Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) on the other hand, recorded a net loss of P137.6 million in 2017, from a net profit of P119.4 million in 2016, while Air Botswana, improved its performance with a net loss of P12.4 million in 2017, compared to a larger net loss of P86.1 million in 2016.

Minister Matambo said the continued loss making by some state-owned enterprises was a major concern to Government sharing and that in an effort to address this, Government established institutions such as Public Enterprise Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA) and Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA).

“These institutions are expected to monitor the financial performance and governance of SOEs in meeting their objectives and targets, using information obtained from the audited financial statements and annual reports of such enterprises. Going forward, Government will work closely with PEEPA and BAOA to strengthen the performance monitoring mechanisms for State-Owned Enterprises to ensure that they deliver on their mandates and that the country derives value-for-money from their existence,” he said.

Meanwhile, in his response to the Budget Speech, Leader of Opposition Advocate Duma underscored that the financial crises realised at these parastatals was largely attributed to leadership crises at the same. He said from the level of governing boards, some state owned enterprises boards’ composition was contradictory to business.

“Some of these board members own businesses directly competing with these state companies, how then you expect them to make sound business decisions in the interest of the state companies?” Boko also said the leadership was not credible since some were political appointments made out of merit.

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Business

New study reveals why youth entrepreneurs are failing

21st July 2022
Youth

The recent study on youth entrepreneurship in Botswana has identified difficult access to funding, land, machinery, lack of entrepreneurial mindset and proper training as serious challenges that continue to hamper youth entrepreneurship development in this country.

The study conducted by Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) in collaboration with University of Botswana has confirmed that despite the government and private sector multi-billion pula entrepreneurship development initiatives, many young people in Botswana continue to fail to grow their businesses into sustainable and successful companies that can help reduce unemployment.

University of Botswana researchers Gaofetege Ganamotse and Rudolph Boy who compiled findings in the 2022 study report for Botswana stated that as part of the study interviews were conducted with successful youth entrepreneurs to understand their critical success factors.

According to the researchers other participants were community leaders, business mentors, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, financial institutions, higher education institutions, non-governmental institutions, policymakers, private organizations, and support structures such as legal and technical experts and accountants who were interviewed to understand how they facilitate successful youth entrepreneurship.

The researchers said they found that although Botswana government is perceived as the most supportive to businesses when compared to other governments in sub-Saharan Africa, youth entrepreneurs still face challenges when accessing government funding. “Several finance-related challenges were identified by youth entrepreneurs. Some respondents lamented the lack of access to start-up finance, whereas others mentioned lack of access to infrastructure.”

The researchers stated that in Botswana entrepreneurship is not yet perceived as a field or career of choice by many youth “Participants in the study emphasized that the many youth are more of necessity entrepreneurs, seeing business venturing as a “fall back. Other facilitators mentioned that some youth do not display creativity, mind-blowing innovative solutions, and business management skills. Some youth entrepreneurs like to take shortcuts like selling sweets or muffins.”

According to the researchers, some of the youth do not display perseverance when they are faced with adversity in business. “Young people lack of an entrepreneurial mindset is a common challenge among youth in business. Some have a mindset focused on free services, handouts, and rapid gains. They want overnight success. As such, they give up easily when faced with challenges. On the other hand, some participants argue that they may opt for quick wins because they do not have access to any land, machinery, offices, and vehicles.”

The researchers stated that most youth involved in business ventures do not have the necessary training or skills to maintain a business. “Poor financial management has also been cited as one of the challenges for youth entrepreneurs, such as using profit for personal reasons rather than investing in the business. Also some are not being able to separate their livelihood from their businesses.

Lastly, youth entrepreneurs reported a lack of experience as one of the challenges. For example, the experience of running a business with projections, sticking to the projections, having an accounting system, maintaining a clean and clear billing system, and sound administration system.”

According to the researchers, the participants in the study emphasized that there is fragmentation within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby there is replication of business activities without any differentiation. “There is no integration of the ecosystem players. As such, they end up with duplicate programs targeting the same objectives. The financial sector recommended that there is a need for an intermediary body that will bring all the ecosystem actors together and serve as a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs and build mentorship programs that accommodate the business lifecycle from inception to growth.”

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Business

BHC yearend financial results impressive

18th July 2022
BHC

Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is said to have recorded an operating surplus of P61 Million, an improvement compared to the previous year. The housing, office and other building needs giant met with stakeholders recently to share how the business has been.

The P61 million is a significant increase against the P6 million operating loss realized in the prior year. Profit before income tax also increased significantly from P2 million in the prior year to P72 million which resulted in an overall increase in surplus after tax from P1 million prior year to P64 million for the year under review.

Chief of Finance Officer, Diratsagae Kgamanyane disclosed; “This growth in surplus was driven mainly by rental revenue that increased by 15% from P209 million to P240 million and reduction in expenditure from P272 million to P214 million on the back of cost containment.”
He further stated that sales of high margin investment properties also contributed significantly to the growth in surplus as well as impairment reversals on receivables amounting to P25 million.

It is said that the Corporation recorded a total revenue of P702 million, an 8% decrease when compared to the P760 million recorded in the prior year. “Sales revenue which is one of the major revenue streams returned impressive margins, contributing to the overall growth in the gross margin,” added Kgamanyane.

He further stated professional fees revenue line declined significantly by 64% to P5 million from P14 million in the prior year which attributed to suspension of planned projects by their clients due to Covid-19 pandemic. “Facilities Management revenue decreased by P 24 million from P69 million recorded in prior year to P45 million due to reduction in projects,” Kgamanyane said.

The Corporation’s strength is on its investment properties portfolio that stood at P1.4 billion at the end of the reporting period. “The Corporation continues its strategy to diversify revenue streams despite both facilities management income and professional fees being challenged by the prevailing economic conditions that have seen its major clients curtailing spending,” added the CEO.

On the one hand, the Corporation’s Strategic Performance which intended to build 12 300 houses by 2023 has so far managed to build 4 830 houses under their SHHA funding scheme, 1 240 houses for commercial or external use which includes use by government and 1 970 houses to rent to individuals.

BHC Acting CEO Pascaline Sefawe noted that; BHC’s planned projects are said to include building 336 flat units in Gaborone Block 7 at approximately P224 million, 100 units in Maun at approximately P78 million, 13 units in Phakalane at approximately P26 million, 212 units in Kazungula at approximately P160 million, 96 units at approximately P42 million in Francistown and 84 units at approximately P61 million in Letlhakane. Emphasing; “People tend to accuse us of only building houses in Gaborone, so here we are, including other areas in our planned projects.”

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Business

Commercial banks to cash big on high interest rates on loans

18th July 2022
Commercial-banks

Researchers from some government owned regulatory institutions in the financial sector have projected that the banking sector’s profitability could increase, following Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee recent decision to increase monetary policy rate.

In its bid to manage inflation, Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee last month increased monetary policy rate by 0.50 percent from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent, a development which resulted with commercial banking sector increasing interest rate in lending to household and companies. As a result of BoB adjustment of Monetary Policy Rate, from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent commercial banks increased prime lending rate from 5.76 percent to 6.26 percent.

Researchers from Bank of Botswana, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, the Financial Intelligence Agency and the Botswana Stock Exchange indicated that due to prospects of high inflation during the second half of 2022, there is a possibility that the Monetary Policy Committee could further increase monetary policy rate in the next meeting in August 25 2022.

Inflation rose from 9.6 percent in April 2022 to 11.9 percent in May 2022, remaining above the Bank of Botswana medium-term objective range of 3 – 6 percent. According to the researchers inflation could increase further and remain high due to factors that include: the potential increase in international commodity prices beyond current forecasts, logistical constraints due to lags in production, the economic and price effects of the ongoing Russia- Ukraine conflict, uncertain COVID-19 profile, domestic risk factors relating to possible regular annual administered price adjustments, short-term unintended consequences of import restrictions resulting with shortages in supplies leading to price increases, as well as second-round effects of the recent increases in administered prices “Furthermore, the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices could add upward pressure to inflation,” said the researchers.

The researchers indicated that Bank of Botswana could be forced to further increase monetary policy rate from the current 2.15 percent if inflation rises persistently. “Should inflation rise persistently this could necessitate an upward adjustment in the policy rate. It is against this background that the interest rate scenario assumes a 1.5 percentage points (moderate scenario) and 2.25 percentage points (severe scenario) upward adjustment in the policy rate,” said the researchers.

The researchers indicated that while any upward adjustment on BoB monetary policy rate and commercial banks prime lending rate result with increase in the cost of borrowing for household and compnies, it increase profitability for the banking sector. “Increases in the policy rate are associated with an overall increase in bank profitability, with resultant increases in the capital adequacy ratio of 0.1 percentage points and 0.2 percentage points for the moderate and severe scenarios, respectively,” said the researchers who added that upward adjustment in monetary policy rate would raise extra capital for the banking sector.

“The increase in profit generally reflects the banking industry’s positive interest rate gap, where interest earning assets exceed interest earning liabilities maturing in the next twelve months. Therefore, an increase of 1.5 percentage points in the policy rate would result in industry gains of P71.7 million (4.1 percent increase), while a 2.25 percentage points increase would lead to a gain of P173.9 million (6.1 percent increase), dominated by large banks,” said the researchers.

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