Connect with us
Advertisement

Phikwe to create 2000 jobs by March 2017-Molefhi

Selibe Phikwe will have created over 2000 job opportunities by March 2017, Selibe Phikwe East Member of Parliament, Nonofo Molefhi told residents on Wednesday.


Molefhi who is also Minister of Infrastructure and Housing announced that the textile firm which is awaiting loan approval from CEDA will create over 1500 jobs alone. “We have had many people doubting the practicality of our revitalization undertaking, but I am here to let you know that get ready, jobs will soon be advertised,” he said.


“A textile firm is waiting crediting of their loan from CEDA, and as soon as that happens production will commence and Selibe Phikwe youth will be hired,” Molefhi confirmed. According to Molefhi the textile industry this time around will be sustainable as they have put measures in place to make the investment airtight lest the 2008 instance of investors who enjoyed tax holidays and disappeared repeats itself.


Minister Molefhi also revealed at the meeting that the government of Botswana is devising a strategy under the Special Economic Zones Authority in which investors will be wooed to set up businesses in Selibe Phikwe with incentives and less cumbersome procedures. Molefhi stipulated that loosened procedures include allocating land to genuine investors which will be done in a week’s time, adding that Botswana Power Corporation and Water Utilities will take 48 hours to assist such serious investors.


“I am personally of the view that all chuck of fertile  land allocated to investors should be retrieved if the land bearers are not serious with creating jobs and  producing food, we have a serious situation here that needs serious investors and business people,” he explained.
According to the cabinet Minister, the Ministry of Investment Trade and Industry will at the next cabinet seating present a strategic framework that entails findings of a brief research and recommendation on how Phikwe investments can be fast tracked.


“As we resume work this coming week, Minister Seretse will present to the cabinet of President Khama his ministry‘s recommendation on tax incentives, work permits, immigration  procedures pertaining the investors that we want here , we don’t want any delays because we are moving against time’’ he said.


Agriculture and Food Processing


The soft spoken lawmaker who is addressing a series of meetings in his constituency also revealed that the National Agro Processing Plant (NAPRO) is now breaking into the lucrative retail market. “This morning I visited SPEDU and NAPRO, I was informed that just yesterday (Tuesday 17th) NAPRO signed a formal agreement with Choppies Superstore, one of the biggest and fast-growing retail chain stores in Africa,” he explained.


Molefhi expressed delight over this deal saying that it will automatically boost the plant‘s sales and eventually take the Haven Harvest NAPRO brand abroad as Choppies is a regional retail giant and a continental fast growing store. “This means that very soon NAPRO will expand its operation and start to processes more raw material, something which will translate to job creation at the plant and farms,” he observed.


Molefhi added that CEDA has NAPRO raw material suppliers backward funding, adding that with Talana farms revived, farms at Thune Irrigation Scheme, the NAFRTEC owned tomato sauce producer is heading for a success and will soon boost Botswana’s export value. According to Molefhi, the agricultural and food processing sector under the Phikwe economic recovery strategy will make a turnaround in the entire national food security status.


“SPEDU is currently arranging a 1000 hectare land for an investor who will set up Olive grains plantations here in the region adding that the land will be leased from communal farm land from one area and the grains will be taken to South Africa to be processed into Oil.
“This investor already has a processing plant in South Africa and in future we will explore possibilities of him setting up the processing plant here if he can successfully produce the grains locally,” said Molefhi. He also added that 300 hectares of land has been identified at Lotsane Dam for horticultural use proving beyond reasonable doubt that NAPRO will be a regional agro processing entity that has abundant raw materials.
 

Manufacturing and Machinery Assembly factories


For manufacturing businesses, Minister Molefhi told attendants that during Christmas Holidays the Selibe Phikwe Economic diversification Unit (SPEDU) was showing Indian Investors around town and discussing a lucrative manufacturing and assembly business.


“While you and I were resting during festive season, SPEDU met Indian investors who are going to setup a tractor assembly plant here, land has already been allocated and final paperwork is underway,” he explained, adding that this business will add to already existing arrangement by local cell phone and laptop assembly companies DItec & Almaz who will start operation and hire over 800 people by March 2017.


Molefhi also added that the long awaited pharmaceutical and medicine pack is no longer just a talk as the Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA)  has already began to determine the type of processing mechanism and plant technology to use in Selibe Phikwe.
SPEDU is fruitful


Meanwhile the Selibe Phikwe East legislator explained that the regional Economic agency mandated to resuscitate Phikwe is on top gear and working at high speed. While conceding that SPEDU has been in existence for many years without tangible projects, Molefhi explains that SPEDU has been making feasibility studies and investigating the region to asses and come up with best economic opportunities that can be salvaged from the area.

 

“SPEDU is now refurbished and reenergized now to transform the economy of this region.” Molefhi further revealed that the Selibe Phikwe Regional Chamber of Commerce which comprises of the region business community has been formed under the stewardship of SPEDU. “The chamber of commerce has already entered into an agreement with SPEDU and the agency will finance and incubate the Chamber for a period of 1 year until it can finance itself,” said Molefhi.

Continue Reading

Digital Version

13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

12th August 2022

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

 

Continue Reading

News

DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

Continue Reading

News

Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

Continue Reading
Weekend Post