The Bank of Botswana Annual Report for the year ended December 2016, which was released and shared with cabinet early this week on Tuesday has highlighted that the bank was successful in the implementation of its work programmes and, in general, achieved its policy objectives during 2016.
The Report provides a summary of the operational activities and audited financial statements of the Bank for the period ended December 31, 2016. According to an overview available on Bank of Botswana website, the report outlines the accountability framework for the Bank’s performance which include functions and responsibilities from conducting of monetary policy, maintaining financial stability, implementation of the exchange rate policy, the design and issuance of currency, management of foreign exchange reserves to regulation and supervision of banks, oversight of the payments systems and provision of banking and settlement services to Government, commercial banks and other financial institutions as well as economic research and policy advice.
According to Governor, Moses Pelaelo in his foreword, 2016 was of special significance to the Bank in several ways. “The banking industry remained sound, prudently managed, solvent, liquid and profitable. All licensed banks met the minimum prudential requirements as set out in the Banking Act and Banking Regulations. The industry’s profitability was due to the increase in both net interest income and non-interest income.”
Further, the report contains a theme topic titled Botswana’s Trade Pattern, International Investment and Regional Economic Integration: Opportunities for Industrial Development and Inclusive Growth. “The topic reviews Botswana’s external sector, in particular, trade and investment performance, related institutional and policy support, and suggests opportunities that should be exploited through trade and industrial policies to stimulate sustainable economic diversification, inclusive growth and job creation,” reads the statement signed by the recently appointed Pelaelo.
However, according to the statement, as in the previous year, the domestic and external environment was less favourable and uncertain. Global economic activity was weak in 2016 relative to 2015, with varying performance across countries and regions. In August 2016 the Bank rate was reduced by 0.5 % point to 5.5 percent due to a positive medium-term outlook for inflation and a stable financial environment which provided scope for monetary policy easing to support economic activity.
The monetary policy easing was undertaken moreover, to encourage productive commercial bank lending and market efficiency, as well as alleviate the cost of liquidity absorption. The 2016 report also states that due to projected low inflation in Botswana compared to trading partner countries, the nominal effective exchange rate (NEER) of the Pula crawled upwards by 0.38 percent during 2016, while the Pula basket weights were 50 percent each for the South African rand and the Special Drawing Rights (SDR). ”However, the real effective exchange rate (REER) depreciated by 0.8 percent in 2016, as the upward rate of crawl was smaller than the inflation differential between Botswana and its trading partner countries.”
The banking sector was adequately capitalized, profitable and liquid as at December 31, 2016. The industry’s compliance with the regulatory and prudential requirements was satisfactory. Most banks reported higher levels of profit compared to the previous year, with the exception of Standard Chartered Bank, First National Bank, Bank of India and Bank SBI.
According to the governor, the banking sector’s balance sheet increased by 5.2 % from P76.7 billion in December 2015 to P80.7 billion in December 2016. The 4.1 percent and 8.7 percent growth in total deposits and capital, respectively, supported the increase in government bonds, treasury bills and gross loans and advances. “Even so, annual credit growth slowed from 7.1 percent at the end of 2015 to 6.2 percent at the end of 2016 because of the slower rate of increase in lending to both households and businesses,” Pelaelo observed.
Notably the bank ‘s financial performance fell tremendously as the Bank’s total assets fell by P7.8 billion to P77.6 billion in December 2016, of which P76.8 billion (P84.9 billion in 2015) was foreign exchange reserves. “The reserves were equivalent to 17 months of imports of goods and services.
The decrease in foreign exchange reserves, in Pula terms, reacts a drawdown in the Government Investment Account, market and currency valuation losses, the latter being due to the appreciation of the Pula against currencies in which the reserves are held.” The Bank’s net income for the year 2016 also fell to P1.4 billion, compared to P9.1 billion in 2015, however 2016 saw the Bank register currency gains of P2.2 billion from the Currency Revaluation Reserve, the net distributable income was P3.6 billion, which was higher than the P2.3 billion given to Government in 2015.
The Bank of Botswana Governor states in the report that the focus on skills development, through appropriate short and long-term training programmes, and staff welfare improvement was maintained with a view to sustaining the Bank’s operational and leadership capability and productivity.
According to the statement, Botswana Certificates (BoBCs) decreased from P8.2 billion at the end of 2015 to P7.9 billion in December 2016. Repurchase Agreements (repos) and reverse repos were used during the year to manage liquidity in between BoBCs auctions, resulting in outstanding reverse repos of P1.3 billion at the end of 2016 compared to P1.7 billion in December 2015.
As in 2015, there were no outstanding repos at the end of 2016 The 14-day BoBC weighted average yield decreased from 0.97 percent in December 2015 to 0.84 percent in December 2016, while the yield on the 91-day BoBC decreased from 1.17 percent to 1.01 percent in the same period. The prime lending rate of the commercial banks decreased from 7.5 percent in 2015 to 7 percent in 2016 in line with the Bank’s decision to reduce the Bank Rate by 0.5 percentage points during the year. Meanwhile, the nominal 3-month (88-day) deposit interest rate decreased from 2.5 percent in December 2015 to 2.03 percent at the end of 2016.
Despite Covid-19 interrupting trade worldwide, exporting companies in Botswana which benefited from the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) services realised P2.96 billion in export earnings during the period from April 2020 to March 2021.
In the preceding financial year, the sale of locally manufactured products in foreign markets had registered export revenue of P2, 427 billion against a target of P3, 211 billion BITC, which celebrates 10 years since establishment, continues to carry out several initiatives targeted towards expanding the Botswana export base in line with Botswana’s desire to be an export led economy, underpinned by a robust export promotion programme in line with the National Export Strategy.
The main products exported were swamp cruiser boats, pvc tanks and pvc pipes, ignition wiring sets, semi-precious stones, veterinary medicines, hair braids, coal, textiles (towels and t-shirts) and automobile batteries. These goods were destined mainly for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Austria, Germany, and Namibia.
With Covid-19 still a problem, BITC continues to roll out targeted virtual trade promotion missions across the SADC region with a view to seeking long-lasting market opportunities for locally manufactured products.
Recently, the Centre facilitated participation for Botswana companies at the Eastern Cape Development Council (ECDC) Virtual Export Symposium, the Botswana-Zimbabwe Virtual Trade Mission, the Botswana-Zambia Virtual Trade Mission, Botswana-South Africa Virtual Buyer/Seller Mission as well as the Botswana-Namibia Virtual Trade Mission.
BITC has introduced an e-Exporting programme aimed at assisting Botswana exporters to conduct business on several recommended e-commerce platforms. Due to the advent of COVID-19, BITC is currently promoting e-trade among companies through the establishment of e-commerce platforms and is assisting local companies to embrace digitisation by adopting e-commerce platforms to reach export markets as well as assisting local e-commerce platform developers to scale up their online marketplaces.
During the 2019/2020 financial year, BITC embarked on several initiatives targeted at growing exports in the country; facilitation of participation of local companies in international trade platforms in order to enhance export sales of local products and services into external markets.
BITC also helped in capacity development of local companies to compete in global markets and the nurturing of export awareness and culture among local manufacturers in order to enhance their skills and knowledge of export processes; and in development and implementation of trade facilitation tools that look to improve the overall ease of doing business in Botswana.
As part of building export capacity in 2019/20, six (6) companies were selected to initiate a process to be Organic and Fair Trade Certified. These companies are; Blue Pride (Pty) Ltd, Motlopi Beverages, Moringa Technology Industries (Pty) Ltd, Sleek Foods, Maungo Craft and Divine Morula.
In 2019 seven companies which were enrolled in the Botswana Exporter Development Programme were capacitated with attaining BOBS ISO 9001: 2015 certification. Three (3) companies successfully attained BOBS ISO 9001:2015 certification. These were Lithoflex (Pty) Ltd, General Packaging Industries and Power Engineering.
BITC’s annual flagship exhibition, Global Expo Botswana (GEB) to create opportunities for trade and strategic synergies between local and international companies. The Global Expo Botswana) is a premier business to business exposition that attracts FDI, expansion of domestic investment, promotion of exports of locally produced goods and services and promotion of trade between Botswana and other countries.
The portal also provides information on; measures, legal documents, and forms and procedures needed by Botswana companies that intend on doing business abroad. BITC continues to assist both potential and existing local manufacturing and service entities to realise their export ambitions. This assistance is pursued through the ambit of the Botswana Exporter Development Programme (BEDP) and the Trade Promotion Programme.
BEDP was revised in 2020 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a vision to developing a diversified export-based economy. The programme focuses mostly on capacitating companies to reach export readiness status.
Prices for goods and services in this country continue to increase, with the latest figures from Statistics Botswana showing that in May 2022, inflation rate rose to 11.9 percent from 9.6 percent recorded in April 2022.
According to Statistics Botswana update released this week, the largest upward contributions to the annual inflation rate in May 2022 came from increase in the cost of transport (7.2 percent), housing, water, electricity, gas & other Fuels (1.4 percent), food & non-alcoholic beverages (1.1 percent) and miscellaneous goods & services (0.8 percent).
With regard to regional inflation rates between April and May 2022, the Rural Villages inflation rate went up by 2.5 percentage points, from 9.6 percent in April to 12.1 percent in May 2022, according to the government owned statistics entity.
In the monthly update the entity stated that the Urban Villages inflation rate stood at 11.8 percent in May 2022, a rise of 2.4 percentage points from the April rate of 9.4 percent, whereas the Cities & Towns inflation rate recorded an increase of 1.9 percentage points, from 9.9 percent in April to 11.8 percent in May.
Commenting on the national Consumer Price Index, the entity stated that it went up by 2.6 percent, from 120.1 in April to 123.2 in May 2022. Statisticians from the entity noted that the transport group index registered an increase of 7.3 percent, from 134.5 in April to 144.2 in May, mainly due to the rise in retail pump prices for petrol and diesel by P1.54 and P2.74 per litre respectively, which effected on the 13th of May 2022.
The food & non-alcoholic beverages group index rose by 2.6 percent, from 118.6 in April 2022 to 121.6 in May 2022 and this came as a result of increase in prices of oils & fats, vegetables, bread & cereal, mineral waters, soft drinks, fruits & vegetables juices, fish (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen) and meat (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen), according to the Statisticians.
The Statisticians said the furnishing, household equipment & routine maintenance group index rose by 1.0 percent, from 111.6 in April 2022 to 112.7 in May 2022 and this was attributed to a general increase in prices of household appliances, glassware, tableware & household utensils and goods & services for household maintenance.
The prices for clothing & footwear group index moved from 109.4 to 110.4, registering a rise of 0.9 percent during the period under review. Bank of Botswana has projected higher inflation in the short term, associated with the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices and added that the possible increase in public service salaries could add also upward pressure to inflation in this country.
In the latest June 2022 global economic prospects, released last week the World Bank has warned that low global economic growth and economic activity in global commodity markets such as China and Europe could negatively affect export revenues for Botswana and other Sub Saharan countries.
Recent data from Statistics Botswana show that Botswana’s exports destined to the global markets such as Asia and the European Union (EU) on monthly basis accounts for around 60.1 percent and 20.1 percent respectively.
The World Bank last week lowered its 2022 projections of global economic growth and indicated that the new forecasts could be bad news for countries like Botswana who are dependent on export mineral revenues. The Bank noted that just over two years after COVID-19 caused the deepest global recession since World War II, the world economy is again in danger and stated that this time it is facing high inflation and slow growth at the same time.
In the recent June projections, the bank lowered its forecast of global economic growth from the January 4.1 percent to 2.1 percent. “Our June forecasts reflect a sizable downgrade to the outlook: global growth is expected to slow sharply from 5.7 percent in 2021 to 2.9 percent this year. This also reflects a nearly one-third cut to our January 2022 forecast for this year of 4.1 percent,” a team of World Bank economists noted in the June 2022 Global Economic Prospects.
The World Bank indicated that exports from Botswana and other Sub Saharan countries could suffer from a substantial deceleration of activity in China and Europe. The Bank noted that exporters of industrial metals, crude oil, and ores such as Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Zambia could suffer from a substantial deceleration of activity in China.
On the other hand a sharp contraction of growth in the euro area could hurt exporters of agricultural products such as beef, coffee, tea, tobacco, cotton, and textiles from Botswana, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Malawi. “The faster-than-expected deceleration of the global economy and increased volatility of commodity prices could hurt many SSA commodity exporters,” said World Bank President David Malpass.
Malpass indicated that subdued growth in the global markets for Botswana and other Sub Saharan exports will likely persist throughout the decade because of weak investment in most of the world.
He noted that with inflation now running at multi-decade highs in many countries and supply expected to grow slowly, inflation could remain higher for longer than currently anticipated. “Even if a global recession is averted, the pain of stagflation could persist for several years— unless major supply increases are set in motion. Amid the war in Ukraine, surging inflation, and rising interest rates, global economic growth is expected to slump in 2022. Several years of above-average inflation and below-average growth are now likely,” said Malpass.