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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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The Ombudsman position fell vacant almost five months ago after Augustine Makgonatsotlhe was removed from the office and appointed as Ambassador to Kuwait.

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This publication understands that the suspects who are aged between 39 and 56 years hail from Tutume and Selebi-Phikwe. At the time of the arrest, they were found in possession of a pistol, bomb motor and four live rounds. It is understood that the suspects told investigators during interrogation that the deadly substance has a lucrative market in Far East countries, where the demand is high. It is further reported that the suspects claimed that the mercury can be easily accessed in mines through middleman.

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No end in sight for Botswana/ Namibia looming border row

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Commenting on reports that the Namibian Parliament has dispatched a committee along the border between the two countries on fact finding mission, the group commended“the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, De-fence and Security that will engage community members living along the Namibia Botswana Border in conducting public hearings into acts of aggression and brutality by Botswana Defence (BDF) Force against innocent and unarmed Namibians.” 

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