The economy performed slightly better than originally forecast for the National Development Plan 10, this is according to Dr. Taufila Nyamadzabo, Secretary, Economic and Financial Policy at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
A modest structural transformation occurred with the non-mining sectors of: Trade, Hotels and Restaurants; and Banks, Insurance & Business Services, playing a major role in driving the economy, with Govt. also improving slightly. Dr Nyamadzabo observed that this calls for concerted diversification effort with more emphasis on export-led-growth. When it comes to Sector Contribution during NDP 10, the Mining sector on average declined by 3.4 percent, the non-mining sector grew by 5.6 percent cushioning the decline of real GDP.
The Financial Policy Secretary shared his observations when making a Presentation of the draft NDP 11 macroeconomic chapters recently where he observed that to achieve the theme of NDP 11 of “Inclusive Growth for the Realisation of Sustainable employment Creation and Poverty Eradication” thorough strategies be adopted. He called for the development of diversified sources of growth; Eradication of Poverty & Reduction of Income Inequalities; Strengthening Social Protection Programmes; and Enhancing Government implementation capacity, among other strategies. Government Budget
Dr Nyamadzabo indicated that total Revenues are estimated at P295.0 billion during NDP10. He said revenue driven by Mineral Revenue was 34.9% of total revenues and Customs & Excise accounted for 27.1%, indicating the need to strengthen diversification efforts in order to increase and diversify the revenue base. Non-mineral Income Tax stood at 17.2% and value Added Tax is 12.2%.
“Government expenditure is estimated at P304.0 billion during NDP10 and Recurrent expenditure, mainly wages & salaries is the major driver for total spending, accounting for 74.0% while Development Expenditure accounts for 26.0%. Recurrent Budget is estimated at P225.4 billion while the Development Budget is estimated at P76.8 billion. Net Lending is estimated at P1.7 billion.”
Dr Nyamadzabo said while Government expenditure stimulates growth, it has the potential to crowd out private sector growth and reverse diversification efforts. Therefore, there is need to stimulate private sector growth and attract investment, including FDI, he said.
“There has been relatively higher growth in recurrent than development expenditure hence there is need to account for recurrent cost arising from development expenditure (i.e., maintenance requirement, utilities, wages& salaries). Overall, the budget balance indicates an estimated deficit of P8.4 billion, or – 5.6% of GDP, over the Plan period, as against P31.9 billion projected.”
According to Dr Nyamadzabo, developing diversified sources of growth is priority. He observed that there is need to push further on Beneficiation, cluster development, Special Economic Zones, EDD, SMMEs & Informal Sector, Natural Resources & Climate Change, and Promoting Local Economy Development. He further stressed on Export -Led Growth Strategy and Domestic Expenditure as a Source of Growth and Employment Creation.
He also emphasised on ensuring a conducive environment for private sector growth and employment creation. He said it critical to maintain macroeconomic stability; a sound regulatory framework for Doing Business and Global Competitiveness; well thought out infrastructure development; labour productivity and skills development; and land servicing, among other things.
On the eradication of poverty and reduction of income inequalities, Dr Nyamadzabo said sustainable livelihoods for the poor could be achieved by accelerating job creation through economic diversification and broad based growth on the one hand, and strengthening human development of the poor on the other. He said access to basic services like health, education and water provision is fundamental. He said there is need to break the cycle of child poverty, by unpacking and addressing it in detail in the context of inclusive growth.
He called for the provision of social safety nets and other measures to address poverty. He stressed on the development of the informal sector and SMMEs; citizen economic empowerment programmes; Developing and improving productivity of the agricultural sector; Ensuring affirmative action to promote equal opportunities and equal treatment to cater for vulnerable groups, including women, elderly and people with disabilities, etc.
Enhancing Govt. implementation capacity Dr Nyamadzabo said it is of paramount importance to Improve the overall coordination of the implementation of Government programmes. He said establishing project implementation units to undertake mega projects; Re-engineering the tendering and adjudication processes to ensure speedy delivery of projects; Enforcing sanctions as per the contracts; could be some of the solutions.
In addition, Dr Nyamadzabo emphasised on blacklisting companies that perennially fail to complete projects on time and budget; Implementing the privatisation policy as well as the public service reforms, outsourcing programme; Increasing the use of the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) project delivery mechanism; and, Implementing an effective and efficient national monitoring and evaluation system. Macroeconomic projections for NDP 11 According to Dr Nyamadzabo budget deficits are projected for the first three years of NDP 11. But he further shared that slight budget surpluses are projected over the last half of the Plan period with a cumulative surplus of P1.05 billion being projected for the entire NDP11.
CONCLUSION Dr Nyamadzabo said the review of NDP10 shows that low growth rates, undiversified economy, and continued dependency on mineral revenue and Customs & Excise, call for more effort to be put in growing the economy and expanding the revenue base.
He said the development challenges of unemployment, poverty, income inequality must be tackled hard. He said these could be achieved through implementation of sustainable policies, strategies and programmes that can create more employment opportunities and eradicate poverty.
Like its predecessor plans, NDP11 recognises the need to strengthen diversification efforts; more emphasis will be placed on: promoting exports; increasing private sector participation through Privatisation, Outsourcing of core activities and PPPs in order to ease the burden on Government.
Mowana Copper Mine in Dukwi will finally pay its former employees a total amount of P23, 789, 984.00 end of this month. For over three years Mowana Copper Mine has been under judicial management. Updating members, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Executive Secretary Kitso Phiri this week said the High Court issued an order for the implementation of the compromise scheme of December 9, 2021 and this was to be done within 30 days after court order.
“Therefore payment of benefits under the scheme including those owed to Messina Copper Botswana employees should be effected sometime in January latest end of January 2022,” Kitso said. Kitso also explained that cash settlement will be 30 percent of the total Messina Copper Botswana estate and negotiated estate is $3,233,000 (about P35, 563,000).
Messina Copper was placed under liquidation and was thereafter acquired by Leboam Holdings to operate Mowana Mine. Leboam Holdings struck a deal with the Messina Copper’s liquidator who became a shareholder of Leboam Holdings. Leboam Holdings could not service its debts and its creditors placed it under provisional judicial management on December 18, 2018 and in judicial management on February 28, 2019.
A new company Max Power expressed interest to acquire the mining operations. It offered to take over the Mowana Mine from Leboam Holdings, however, the company had to pay the debts of Leboam including monies owed to Messina Copper, being employees benefits and other debts owed to other creditors.
The monies, were agreed to be paid through a scheme of compromise proposed by Max Power, being a negotiated payment schedule, which was subject to the financial ability of the new owners. “On December 9, 2021, Messina Copper liquidator, called a meeting of creditors, which the BMWU on behalf of its members (former Messina Copper employees) attended, to seek mandate from creditors to proceed with a proposed settlement for Messina Copper on the scheme of compromise. It is important to note that employee benefits are regarded as preferential credit, meaning once a scheme is approved they are paid first.”
A savingram the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development sent to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries explaining why councilors across the country should not have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term has been revealed.
The contents of the savingram came out in the wake of a war of words between counselors and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The councilors through the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) accuse the Ministry of refusing to allow them to have access to their terminal benefits before end of their term.
This has since been denied by the Ministry. In the savingram to town councils and council secretaries across the country, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Molefi Keaja states that, “Kindly be advised that the terminal benefits budget is made during the final year of term of office for Honorable Councilors.” Keaja reminded town clerks and council secretaries that, “The nominal budget Councils make each and every financial year is to cater for events where a Councilor’s term of office ends before the statutory time due to death, resignation or any other reason.”
The savingram also goes into detail about why the government had in the past allowed councilors to have access to their terminal benefits before the end of their term. “Regarding the special dispensation made in the 2014-2019, it should be noted that the advance was granted because at that time there was an approved budget for terminal benefits during the financial year,” explained Keaja. He added that, “Town Clerks/Council Secretaries made discretions depending on the liquidity position of Councils which attracted a lot of audit queries.”
Keaja also revealed that councils across the country were struggling financially and therefore if they were to grant councilors access to their terminal benefits, this could leave their in a dire financial situation. Given the fact that Local Authorities currently have cash flow problems and budgetary constraints, it is not advisable to grant terminal benefits advance as it would only serve to compound the liquidity problems of councils.
It is understood that the Ministry was inundated with calls from some Councils as they sought clarification regarding access to their terminal benefits. The Ministry fears that should councils pay out the terminal benefits this would affect their coffers as the government spends a lot on councilors salaries.
Reports show that apart from elected councilors, the government spends at least P6, 577, 746, 00 on nominated councilors across the country as their monthly salaries. Former Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso once told Parliament that in total there are 113 nominated councilors and their salaries per a year add up to P78, 933,16.00. She added that their projected gratuity is P9, 866,646.00.
A surge in consumer spending is expected to be a key driver of Botswana’s economic recovery, according to recent projections by Fitch Solutions. Fitch Solutions said it forecasts household spending in Botswana to grow by a real rate of 5.9% in 2022.
The bullish Fitch Solutions noted that “This is a considerable deceleration from 9.4% growth estimated in 2021, it comes mainly from the base effects of the contraction of 2.5% recorded in 2020,” adding that, “We project total household spending (in real terms) to reach BWP59.9bn (USD8.8bn) in 2022, increasing from BWP56.5bn (USD8.3bn) in 2021.” According to Fitch Solutions, this is higher than the pre-Covid-19 total household spending (in real terms) of P53.0 billion (USD7.8bn) in 2019 and it indicates a full recovery in consumer spending.
“We forecast real household spending to grow by 5.9% in 2022, decelerating from the estimated growth of 9.4% in 2021. We note that the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions on economic activity resulted in real household spending contracting by 2.5% in 2020, creating a lower base for spending to grow from in 2021 and 2022,” Fitch Solutions says.
Total household spending (in real terms), the agency says, will increase in 2022 when compared to 2021. In 2021 and 2022, total household spending (in real terms) will be above the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019, indicating a full recovery in consumer spending, says Fitch Solutions. It says as of December 6 2021 (latest data available), 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose, while this is relatively low it is higher than Africa average of 11.3%.
“The emergence of new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron, which was first detected in the country in November 2021, poses a downside risk to our outlook for consumer spending, particularly as a large proportion of the country’s population is unvaccinated and this could result in stricter measures being implemented once again,” says Fitch Solutions.
Growth will ease in 2022, Fitch Solution says. “Our forecast for an improvement in consumer spending in Botswana in 2022 is in line with our Country Risk team’s forecast that the economy will grow by a real rate of 5.3% over 2022, from an estimated 12.5% growth in 2021 as the low base effects from 2020 dissipate,” it says.
Fitch Solutions notes that “Our Country Risk team expects private consumption to be the main driver of Botswana’s economic growth in 2022, as disposable incomes and the labour market continue to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.” It says Botswana’s tourism sector has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions.
According to Fitch Solutions, “The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in November 2021, has resulted in travel bans being implemented on Southern African countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. This will further delay the recovery of Botswana’s tourism sector in 2021 and early 2022.” Fitch Solutions, therefore, forecasts Botswana’s tourist arrivals to grow by 81.2% in 2022, from an estimated contraction of 40.3% in 2021.
It notes that the 72.4% contraction in 2020 has created a low base for tourist arrivals to grow from. “The rollout of vaccines in South Africa and its key source markets will aid the recovery of the tourism sector over the coming months and this bodes well for the employment and incomes of people employed in the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and hotels as well as recreation and culture businesses,” the report says.
Fitch Solutions further notes that with economies reopening, consumers are demanding products that they had little access to over the previous year. However, manufacturers are facing several problems. It says supply chain issues and bottlenecks are resulting in consumer goods shortages, feeding through into supply-side inflation. Fitch Solutions believes the global semiconductor shortage will continue into 2022, putting the pressure on the supply of several consumer goods.
It says the spread of the Delta variant is upending factory production in Asia, disrupting shipping and posing more shocks to the world economy. Similarly, manufacturers are facing shortages of key components and higher raw materials costs, the report says adding that while this is somewhat restricted to consumer goods, there is a high risk that this feeds through into more consumer services over the 2022 year.
“Our global view for a notable recovery in consumer spending relies on the ability of authorities to vaccinate a large enough proportion of their populations and thereby experience a notable drop in Covid-19 infections and a decline in hospitalisation rates,” says Fitch Solutions. Both these factors, it says, will lead to governments gradually lifting restrictions, which will boost consumer confidence and retail sales.
“As of December 6 2021, 38.4% of people in Botswana have received at least one vaccine dose. While this is low, it is higher than the Africa average of 11.3%. The vaccines being administered in Botswana include Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson. We believe that a successful vaccine rollout will aid the country’s consumer spending recovery,” says Fitch Solutions. Therefore, the agency says, “Our forecasts account for risks that are highly likely to play out in 2022, including the easing of government support. However, if other risks start to play out, this may lead to forecast revisions.”