200 billion Pula splash
By Aubrey Lute
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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Batswana owe banks P79 billion
The Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame, has disclosed that the total bank credit extended by commercial banks amounted to P79 billion, out of which P53.4 billion was retail loans and advances to households.
Parliament was informed this week in response to a question by the Member of Parliament for Selibe-Phikwe West and Leader of Opposition (LOO), Dithapelo Keorapetse.
“As at 31st December 2022, loans and other advances extended to households by banks constituted the largest share of bank-lending at 67.6 percent, the majority of which was unsecured personal loans at P36.2 billion (67.8%),” said Serame.
She added that the total household Debt to GDP ratio was 21.9%, while the total private business credit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was 10.8%.
On the other hand, it was noted that outstanding mortgage loans extended to households were P14.2 billion (26.6% of household debt) or 5.9% of GDP. Overall, total bank credit as a ratio of GDP stood at 32.7 percent.
It was acknowledged that there are 10 deposit-taking banks in the country, that is, nine commercial banks and one statutory bank (Botswana Savings Bank). This statistics excludes the National Development Bank (NDB), which is a development finance institution. The nine commercial banks include an indigenous bank, Botswana Building Society Bank Limited (BBSBL), which was issued with a commercial banking license by the Bank of Botswana in October 2022.
Still in December 2022, it was recorded that there were 376 non-bank lenders in Botswana consisting of 246 micro lenders, 66 finance companies, three leasing companies and 61 registered pawnshops.
According to Minister Serame, the loan book value representing the principal amount lent by these entities to individuals and to small, medium and micro Enterprises (SMMEs) is collated by the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), which at 31st of December 2021, the loan book values were P5.6 billion for micro lenders, P1.6 billion for finance companies, P225 million for leasing companies and P14 million for pawnshops.
Government policy is that price control is not effective or desirable, and, as such, interest rates are not regulated. Non-regulation may, among other things, result in an increase in non-interest rate fees and commissions, reduced price transparency, lower credit supply and loan approval rates.
“It is important to note that, from a macroeconomic perspective, household debt in Botswana is neither a pandemic nor considered to be excessive. Indeed, the Bank of Botswana’s periodic and continuous assessments of household debt, including through the annual Household Indebtedness Surveys, suggest moderate household indebtedness and therefore, is of no apparent risk to the safety and soundness of the domestic financial system,” said Serame.
She also alluded this assessment is validated by the recently concluded Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) on Botswana undertaken by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.
Keorapetse however rebuked the issue of debt not being excessive and noted the Minister thinks it’s fine for Batswana to be debt burdened in a way that their debts diminishes their quality of life.
“A significant portion of Batswana’s salaries go to servicing debts and because she doesn’t see this as a challenge, there can never be any intervention from her side. There is no price regulation on interest, which can go up to 30%+ a month. Since President Masisi ascended to the high office in 2018, 2 384 Batswana were put in prison for failure to pay debts, that is 467 Batswana every year. So, for us, debt problems are big and concerning,” said Keorapetse.
He said they are worried because Batswana are drowning in debts because of relative poverty, slave wages and unemployment/underemployment, they buy basic needs and services with borrowed money and noted predatory and unethical lending has become a major problem in Botswana’s financial sector.
How to fleece P14 million from Chinese investor
The modus operandi of how five men allegedly swindled a Chinese national P14 million last week continue to unravel. Highly placed sources from the intelligence, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) revealed to this publication how the whole scam was concocted.
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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.
Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”
Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.
On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.
He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”
President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.
“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”
When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.
“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”
He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.
“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:
He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”