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200 billion Pula splash

The National Development Plan (NDP) 11 has been presented to Parliament and lawmakers are making their input accordingly in Parliament. It is evident that the next six years almost P200 billion will be spent during the six years of the NDP 11 which has been aligned to the new Vision 2036 aspirations.


The NDP 11 indicates that Botswana will spend heavily on security issues including territorial protection, infrastructure development, as well as maintenance of existing structures across ministries.  The 2019 general elections will also gobble a couple of millions between now and 2023.


A number of observers have called on the government to ensure that the NDP 11 focuses more on empowering citizens and leveraging the private sector. Several mega projects are included in the NDP 11 and as usual government has been urged to be more vigilant when it comes to implementation if the NDP 11 is to help propel this country into a high income bracket.


IEC NEEDS P439.9 MILLION FOR 2019 ELECTIONS
A total of P439.9 million will be spent on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) between 2018 and 2022. The bulk of the money P288.9 million will go towards the 2019 general elections while P147.8 million paying for the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and P1.1 million being utilised on the review of the Electoral Process. 

The opposition has threatened to take government to court over the EVMs. It is no secret that the 2019 general elections are highly anticipated because of several factors, with the opposition aiming to topple the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) then.

Another twist is the expected change of guard in the Presidency of the country, with Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama’s term coming to an end in 2018, hence there is no doubt that Botswana will have a new president after the 2019 general elections. The IEC has already started preparing for the elections; in 2017 they will spend P1.1 million in the review of the electoral process; P100 million in the EVMs followed by P36.6 million in 2018/19 and P12.2 million in 2019/2020.  


DIS WILL SPEND OVER P1. 6 BILLION IN SIX YEARS
The Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) will also see a substantial spending during NDP 11. It is evident that security is one of the top priorities of the current government. The DIS is expected to spend P1, 668.5 million in the next six years, with the amount spread evenly during the financial years. The money will be spent on DIS communications; Infrastructure; computer equipment, vehicles and other functionaries.


DCEC PALTRY SHARE
Only P69 million will be spent on the Directorate on Corruption and economic Crime (DCEC) in the next six years. The DCEC will only get a fleet expansion in starting inn 2020/21 to the tune of P4 million. Another P4 million will be availed in 2021/22 and another in 2022/23. P0.4 million will be allocated for organisational structure review during the 2020/21 financial year. More than half, P36 million, will be used for provision of staff residential accommodation and it will be availed in batches starting from 2020/21 financial year.

The DCEC technical works program will claim P18 million from the total budget. There is an additional P7 million budgeted for the DCEC case management system.


SOCIAL PROTECTION GETS OVER P2 BILLION
Government will continue to put emphasis on social protection. The Poverty Eradication Programme gets the large chunk in the budget, with P2, 172.8 million budgeted for this programme. An Emergency Operating Centre will be established at the tune of P30 million, with P5 million spent over the course of the six years. P8 million has been set aside for a Disability Economic Empowerment Programme.


CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE PLENTY AT EDUCATION MINISTRY
Secondary education will see a number of projects being implemented. A Unified secondary School will be built in Tsabong at the tune of P100 million during the 2017/18 financial year and will be completed during the 2018/19 financial year. Another Unified Secondary School will be built in Takatokwane also at the tune of P100 million while Francistown and Maun will see construction of a Junior Secondary Schools at the tune of P80 million each.

P269 million has been budged and apportioned equally across the six years for expansion of junior secondary schools. P43.4 million will be used for maintenance of junior secondary schools. Secondary Schools staff housing has been allocated P654.9 million starting with P422.1 million budgeted for the 2017/18 financial year. A Centre for Severe and Multiple Disability is lined up for Maun to the tune of P200 million while Francistown will get a Learner Assessment Centre valued at P20 million.  


LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural development will also spend heavily on social welfare programmes and infrastructure development. P5, 238.0million is reserved for social welfare programmes while there is a whooping P922.5 million for infrastructure development. The infrastructure includes internal roads among others. P928.4 million will be used for Primary Schools infrastructure backlog eradication in all districts. Local construction companies are expected to be bankrolled by these budget which available between financial years 2017/18 and 2019/20.


MORE SPENDING ON WATER AND ENERGY
Close to P9 billion will be spent on water infrastructure development.  The North South Water Carrier project Palapye-Mmashia will need about P5 billion over the next six years.  P700 million will be needed in the financial year 2017/18.  Kanye will be connected to the NSC during the 2018/19 financial year with a budget of P150 million in 2017/18 and P300 million in 2019/2020. P400 million is needed for the Gaborone-Mmamashia pipeline; Thune dam pipeline works need P590 million by 2023. Several other pipeline projects are expected to be implemented to the tune of millions of Pula. Sanitation works have also been budgeted for to the tune of P3 815.3 million.

Power generation and distribution will need P3, 865.6 million. Morupule A refurbishment needs P600 million between financial years 2017/18 and 2019/20. P814.6 million is reserved for Rakola substation during the financial years 2018/19 and 2020/21. Rural village electrification and network extension has P650 million budgeted for the next six years. Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) will be supported with P10 billion in the next six years.


BDF AND BOTSWANA POLICE SERVICE
Strengthening of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) capabilities has been given priority in the next six years. BDF will spend P14, 830.5 million in the next six years. Botswana Police Service will be strengthened during the next six years with P2, 420.0 budgeted. A number of police stations and posts will be constructed across the country. Police houses and maintenance of existing structures also dominate the budget

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

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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.

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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.

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