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Citizens allowed to set-up own banks – Matambo

Botswana citizens can set up their own commercial banks, provided they satisfy requirements stipulated by regulator, Bank of Botswana (BoB); Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo said this week.

Responding to the debate on his ministry’s proposed budget, Matambo reiterated that requirements set-up by Bank of Botswana (BoB) are reasonable given the delicate job of handing people’s money. “I do not think it is unreasonable; it is a small amount, actually. With regard to experience, I think it is important that if you say you are going to establish a bank and start handling other people’s money, those people better be confident that you are the type of person or institution that will handle their money safely, and if you do not have experience, then there could be a problem,” he contended.

Earlier in the debate, Gaborone Bonnington South and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) deputy leader, Ndaba Gaolathe had argued that the requirements put forward by the regulator are prohibitive as they require a bank to have operated elsewhere before setting-up in Botswana.

Gaolathe had argued that Batswana who are experienced and have worked in banks around the world could come together to form a consortium should be allowed to set-up a bank because they have the experience and the collective ability. However, Matambo said it is a necessary requirement to have operated elsewhere, indicating that citizens have the option of forging partnership with other foreign banks if they propose to set-up.

“You are a step ahead when you apply and you are a consortium of people who once worked in a bank, you have got something to show to Bank of Botswana, but you do not have anything to show that you have ran a bank,” said Matambo.  “I think that is the experience that the Bank of Botswana [requires] in the light of as I have said, the fact that you are going to be looking after huge sums of money belonging to others, I think that is why they emphasise that.”

The finance minister said according to his experience, people who have applied to BoB before did not have a problem with the ‘experience’ aspect because there are banks all over the world that are always willing to become partners to local consortiums. “I think we now have about 12 or so banks in Botswana and they are all established through that modicum,” he remarked.

While Matambo maintained his position on the BoB requirement, Gaolathe on the other hand believes that the banking sector is still dominated by foreign banks; therefore there is a need to start a process of grooming home grown banks and financial institutions through a variety of policy instruments.

“First, we must lessen the barriers to entry and allow for a second tier banking system to subsist with a first tier system. This should overtime give indigenous banks the history, and credibility to elevate to the first tier,” he argued. Matambo noted that the privatisation of National Development Bank (NDB) will create a first indigenous Bank in Botswana which would be citizen and government controlled. NDB will use the mondi operandi adopted by the Botswana Telecommunication Corporation Limited (BTCL) in which government retained a 51 percent stake, while the other 49 percent was offered to the public of which 5 percent went to employees.

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Government sitting on 4 400 vacant posts

14th September 2020
(DPSM) Director Goitseone Naledi Mosalakatane

Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.

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FNBB projects deeper 50 basis point cut for Q4 2020

14th September 2020
Steven Bogatsu

Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.

The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter.  According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.

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Food suppliers give Gov’t headache – report

14th September 2020
Food suppliers give Gov’t headache

An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.

Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.

There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.

The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.

Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.

In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.

“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.

In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.

“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”

Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.

In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.

In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.

This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.

In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.

Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.

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