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Airport Junction’s P227 Million extension under way

Ground works have started on the long-awaited P227 Million extension of Airport Junction Shopping Centre, which will incorporate a double-storey retail building with basement and deck parking.

Construction commenced with the first phase of the basement parking at Airport Junction Shopping Centre. Shoppers are set to have a bigger, better shopping experience with 30 new stores to be added to the centre’s stable of 74 stores. The new phase will include a bigger home and décor offering as well as specialty fashion and lifestyle stores. The extension will add 9,700sqm to its 41,445sqm floor space and end parking woes with 488 additional new car spaces, taking the total parking bays provided up to 2 378.

A myriad of factors led to the decision to expand the mall. Firstly, continuous unique enhancements to the existing tenant mix has increased footfall into the mall, which then necessitated the introduction of better offerings into the mall for convenience of customers such as Virgin Active, Mr Price Sport and Tiger Wheel and Tyre. New and existing retailers have already been showing interest in the mall for growth of their businesses.

With Gaborone anchored in all directions by significant retail nodes, it was important that Airport Junction, also strengthened the node in which it belongs to retain customers longer and compete favorably.  At the end, this expansion reflects the commitment of Airport Junction as a key player in the development of Botswana and facilitation of market sophistication which in turn will encourage spending within the country’s borders as opposed to abroad. Thus, this expansion is aimed at rendering Airport Junction Shopping Centre a true one-stop shopping destination.

Half of the new specialty stores will feature retailers that have never been available in Botswana before, some of these include Toys/Babies R Us, Sportscene, @Home Living Space and Roccomamas, to mention a few. The stores expected to open in October 2018 will enhance what is already one of the most productive properties in the Khumo Property Asset Management portfolio. “This expansion gives us the opportunity to offer shoppers an unprecedented array of retailers and brands to amplify the Airport Junction Shopping Centre experience,” Khumo Property CEO, Outule Bale said. 

This is the mall where many of the ‘first time’ investors in the market can be found, among them Builders Warehouse, Sparkling Auto, House and Home, At Home, Clicks Body Shop, Cappuccinos, Europa, Virgin Active and Town Lodge, complementing the usual family stores, six banks – with Barclays being the biggest. “Our shopping centre is a true retail destination, and we are proud to see these respected brands join the extensive updates and enhancements already taking place.

He said food will continue to be the big draw card at the centre, with the new food-court that will overlook a new children’s toy store and play area.  Mr. Bale said demand from new retailers and desire for bigger space from existing retailers had partly driven the expansion, adding that this would probably not be the last, especially as the population size grows. Airport Junction Shopping Centre has been a huge success since inception, and has grown to become the dominant shopping centre in Botswana, with a strong tenant mix that attracts consumers from the LSM 7 – 10 market segment.

Positioned at the intersection of the A1 highway and the Airport Road, Bale said these attributes make Airport Junction Shopping Centre easily accessible for travelers, residents and commuters in the area. Mr. Bale added that access roads from Airport Road would be upgraded to reduce traffic congestion during peak hours. Indicative of the centre’s impact is the positive reviews Airport Junction continues to receive from the public since officially opening for business in 2012. “Trading by tenants has generally been on a steady growth.  This is attributable to a number of factors including the quality of the overall tenant mix, the standards achieved at the mall and the marketing campaigns by management.”

For her part, Khumo Property Asset Management Retail Property Manager, Nazly Dawood said plans for the next five years include a vision to maintain the growth and the mall’s status as the dominant shopping centre in the area, as well as to maintain community involvement, and to continuously improve customers’ overall shopping experience. “We would also like to use this opportunity to sincerely thank the community of Gaborone and surrounding areas; citizens of Botswana in general for their continued support and contribution, without which our impressive growth would not have been possible. “

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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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