In a time when parastatals are bleeding jobs and drowning in debt, Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bashi Gaetsaloe is walking tall. With his company’s whooping 224 million pula plus balance Sheet, he is confident that he is doing something right.
On Tuesday, the BDC revealed over 100% growth in their profits for the financial year ended June 2016. Addressing stakeholders in Gaborone, the corporation’s top brass told attendants that they have doubled profits to over P200 million compared to P110 million recorded in 2015.
When breaking down the financial figures BDC Chief Finance Officer, Mbako Mbo noted that the company’s total revenue grew by 24% to P384 million from P310 million in 2015. The company revenues from operations closed the year at P262 million, a +35% growth from the year ended June 2015.
“Corporation assets grew by 9 % to P212 million net growths compared to P26 million reductions in total liabilities. An additional P239 million growth was recorded in shareholder funds, suggesting a 14% year-on-year increase,” he said.
According to information gathered by BusinesPost as per reports from the stakeholders’ briefing, BDC experienced a 6 % growth for their grouped value, recording a whooping P4.4 billion worth of company assets, with group level shareholders’ funds registering slight 3% growth to P3.2 billion.
“June 2016 marked the midpoint of our 5 year strategic plan and all our indicators point to a business that continues on a sustainable growth plan," the CFO highlighted.
Having ascended to the helm of the government investment arm just a short while ago, and taken the driving seat of a company swimming in a pool of debt and liquidating enterprises, Gaetsaloe revealed that the 5 year strategy they implemented about two years back is in good progress.
He noted that the BDC commissioned a major review of business dealing with their re-modeling strategy targeted at addressing challenges facing the business which included failing of mega billion pula investments like the Glass Project and liquidation of Talana farms which resulted in auctioning of assets consequently the company recording major losses.
“We have been facing challenges like any other business, the first phase of our current 5 year strategy was basically transforming our business and consolidating the kind of outcomes that have led to increased growth from our investment portfolio,” he said.
The optimistic MD further explained that the corporation now will focus on investing into new businesses to expand and affirm their portfolio with the aim of diversifying the country’s economy and growth.
“We have an extensive pipeline of earmarked investments existing which we are confident will contribute significantly to Botswana’s development agenda, whilst at the same time providing satisfactory financial returns to our main shareholder,” he said.
According to BDC, as the economy bleeds jobs everyday they pride themselves in creating 830 new jobs this year and keeping their over 4 700 net workforce base across its portfolio of companies .
BDC further revealed a total of P588 million injections has been approved for new projects, of which Gaetsaloe indicated they contributed to diversification of the economy, exports and expanded the private sector; boasting about paying a multi million pula dividend to its shareholder, the Government, something which they noted last happened in 2008.
On Monday President Khama pre announced this revelations indicating that BDC‘s recovery endeavor significantly bore fruits. “Madam Speaker I am pleased to report Botswana Development Corporation has recorded profits for 2 years up to June 2016,just over 400 million worth of new investment has been approved with an additional 800 million expected to be approved for both new and expanding businesses in the next coming few months.”
Botswana Development Corporation Limited was established in 1970, mandated to be the country's main agency for commercial and industrial development. The Government of Botswana owns 100 % of the issued share capital of the Corporation.
BDC offers loans, equity, and provision of commercial, industrial and residential premises. It supports projects that generate sustainable employment for Batswana and add to the skills of the local workforce. Encouraging citizen participation in business ventures.
Furthermore, BDC finance the development of viable businesses which supports the corporation investment priorities of energy, infrastructure, innovation and technology as well as agriculture and agro-procession. BDC also indulges in cross border financing of viable projects regionally and internationally to raise funds for local domestic investment and economic growth as well as expanding government revenue.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”