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De Beers tallies $572 million in 6th sales cycle

Anglo American’s De Beers, the world's No.1 diamond producer by value, this week reported a 5.7% rise in rough diamond sales during the sixth cycle of the year compared with the previous one, as earlier India’s Diwali festivities brought forward demand from Indian diamond polishers.

Speaking of the De Beers Group’s sixth sales cycle of 2017, Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, noted, “The sixth sales cycle of the year maintained the trend of consistently good demand for De Beers rough diamonds across the product range.” The provisional value of rough diamond sales (Global Sightholder Sales and Auction Sales) for the said cycle amounted to $572 million. In the same period last year, the actual sales value stood at $528 million.

Bruce Cleaver added, “With Diwali being earlier than normal in 2017, we saw some demand from Indian diamantaires pulled forward from Sight 7. This was due to these customers needing to make rough diamond purchases in sufficient time to complete their polishing before the holiday begins.” The Cycle 6 2017 provisional sales value represents sales as at 31 July 2017. Also, the company restated sales value of its cycle 5 2017 to $541 million.

Diwali, or festival of lights, is India's biggest and most important holiday of the year, which is celebrated in the fall. The festivity is known for driving diamonds and gold sales up, especially at the beginning of the five-day celebration. “With Diwali being earlier than normal in 2017, we saw some demand from Indian diamantaires pulled forward from Sight 7,” De Beers chief executive Bruce Cleaver said in the statement. “This was due to these customers needing to make rough diamond purchases in sufficient time to complete their polishing before the holiday begins.”

Last week, chief financial officer Nimesh Patel said improved market conditions meant De Beers was once again open to buying new assets at the right price. The comments came after the Anglo American division reported a 3% increase in underlying earnings in the first half of the year.

The next auction sales business

Meanwhile De Beers Group this week announced that its Auction Sales business will run further polished diamond auction events in August, following the success of the initial events in late June. The diamond giant also said at the time it had lifted its 2017 marketing budget by 20% to around $140 million, including both its own advertising and a contribution to the industry body the Diamond Producers Association's campaign to boost sales.

Customer response to the initial auction events in June was positive, with the auction featuring diamonds polished directly from De Beers-mined rough diamonds seeing the majority of lots successfully sold. The third party exceptional polished diamond auction also saw pleasing results with several of the flagship diamond lots on offer selling through, including the lead lot of a 7.21 carat D Colour flawless pear-shape diamond.

Neil Ventura, Executive Vice-President, De Beers Auction Sales, said: “We’ve been really encouraged by the early reaction to auctions of our own polished diamonds and to our third party exceptional auction sales. The uptake of goods in the auction of De Beers’ dual-certified polished diamonds indicates that there is healthy demand for products with this additional layer of assurance, and the demand at the exceptionals auction highlights that our leading platform and rapidly growing global customer network offers an attractive alternative route to market when looking to source or sell some of the finest polished diamonds.”

The next auction event for polished diamonds manufactured directly from De Beers-mined rough diamonds, with all goods having dual certification from the International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research and the GIA, will take place on 10 August 2017. This event will see a greater volume of De Beers polished diamonds offered for sale than at the first event held in June. Meanwhile, the next third party exceptional diamond auction, featuring higher value polished diamonds that have been responsibly sourced from sellers evidencing the highest standards of integrity, will be held on 24 August 2017. Headlining the event is a 15 carat internally flawless Fancy Vivid Yellow rectangle brilliant, as well as a two carat Fancy Pinkish Purple cushion.

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020
Botswana-on-high-alert-as-AML-joins-Covid-19-to-plague-mankind-

This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.

The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.

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Finance Committee cautions Gov’t against imprudent raising of debt levels

21st September 2020
Finance Committe Chairman: Thapelo Letsholo

Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.

He was speaking in  Parliament on Tuesday delivering  Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a  motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.

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Gov’t Investment Account drying up fast!  

21st September 2020
Dr Matsheka

Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.

The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.

The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.

The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.

This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.

Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.

Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.

However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.

Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.

When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.

This  as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.

Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.

The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.

Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.

In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.

Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.

Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.

Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.

Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance   Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”

He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”

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