Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Kenneth Matambo’s national budget presented before parliament this week depicted a gloomy picture of the country’s future, with government expected to experience more budget deficits.
It is the first budget of the National Development Plan 11 (NDP 11) which was approved by parliament in December 2016. According to Matambo, Botswana’s economy has suffered setbacks as it contracted by 1.7 percent in 2015, compared to a positive growth rate of 4.1 percent recorded in 2014.
“This negative growth was mainly due to weak performance of the mining 3 sector, as a result of the reduction in diamond and copper production by 15.6 percent and 35 percent, respectively, during the year. The non-mining sectors also registered a lower growth of 1.7 percent in 2015 compared to 4.9 percent in 2014, reflecting the impact of water and electricity disruptions on the rest of the economy,” he informed parliament.
In the 2016/17 budget, Matambo informed parliament about the performance of public enterprises, something which he omitted in this year’s budget. Last year Matambo informed parliament that some state owned enterprises such as; Botswana Development Corporation, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority, Botswana Housing Corporation, and Botswana Savings Bank, made profit, others, which include; Water Utilities Corporation, Air Botswana, National Development Bank, and Botswana Meat Commission, recorded operational losses.
W UC, Air Botswana, BMC, NDB and BPC have been making perennial losses for the consecutive years running. It was recorded in last year’s budget speech that WUC, recorded a net loss of P367.0 million in 2015 up from P361.0 million in 2014; Air Botswana made a net loss of P165 million in 2015 compared to, P100 million in 2014; NDB registered a net loss of P37.2 million in 2015 compared to a net loss of P86.3 million in 2014; BMC registered a net loss of P9.6 million in 2014, after registering a net profit of P25 million in 2013.
Matambo informed parliament that the country continues to be heavily dependent on exports and revenues from diamonds. As at end of 2015, diamond exports accounted for 83.1 percent of total exports with mineral revenue accounting for 30.4 percent share of total Government revenue, he said.
“There is need to diversify our exports, which have remained the same and largely dominated by diamonds. It is for this reason that, the development of diversified sources of economic growth and revenue was identified as one of the priority areas to be pursued during NDP 11. Hence, besides consolidating on achievement made on structural economic transformation, export diversification should be the main objective going forward,” he stated.
Matambo has admitted the manner in which the country’s economy is perfoming and the projected growth is not succifient to solve the problems facing the country especially unemployment which has becoming the troublesome issue in Botswana’s politics. During the NDP 10, which ends in March 2017, Botswana’s economy grew on average by about 3.8 percent. The economy is also forecast to grow at an average of about 4.4 percent per annum over the entire NDP 11.
“These growth rates are lower than the early 1980s rates of 7 to 9 percent and SADC regional target of 5 percent. Such rates are not sufficient to adequately address development challenges of; unemployment, poverty eradication, and income inequality,” he said. Matambo has added that in the wake of the current financial challenges that the Government is experiencing and also given the volatility of the Custom and Excise revenues, it is paramount that Government continues to exercise prudence in the management of its financial resources and also devise new ways of widening its revenue base.
“Ministry will undertake a holistic simplification of both the Income Tax Act and the Value Added Tax Act with a view to developing a Tax Administration Act. This is intended to improve tax administration efficiency, resulting in optimal revenue collection,” he said.
The ministry of finance is also considering proposals from the Taxation Review Committee which include, introduction of Transfer Pricing rules in the Income Tax Act that would curb any undesirable tax avoidance as well as underscore the alignment of this country’s tax system to international best practice; amending the Income Tax Act, among others, to impose a penalty for non-filers irrespective of whether there is any tax to pay or not; and amending the Value Added Tax Act to include sale of property by a Deputy Sheriff as a taxable transaction.
TOP 5 MINISTRIES – RECURRENT BUDGET ALLOCATION Basic Education-P6.8 billion Health and Wellness- P6.6 billion Local Government and Rural Development- P5.6 bilion Defence, Justice and Security- P5 billion Tertiary Education Research, Science and Technology- P4.3 billion
TOP 5 MINISTRIES- DEVELOPMENT BUDGET ALLOCATION
Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security- P2.9 billion Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services- P2.8 billion Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security- P2.76 billion Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development – P1.74 billion Ministry of Transport and Communications-P1.74 billion
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.