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Stakeholders laud former BTCL MD

Taylor says he is not leaving Botswana

Stakeholders have acknowledged former Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) Managing Director, for his contribution to the growth of BTCL and the development of Botswana in general.

Speaking at an elegant ceremony hosted by the BTCL Board of Directors,  at GICC recently, they highlighted  Mr. Paul Taylor’s  achievements during the  past 5 years when he was  head of the BTCL Family.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Mr. Neil Fitt said during that time, there were many challenges, changes and transformations.

However, the BTCL team led by Mr. Taylor, together with other stakeholders worked hard to position the company for the longer term future whilst delivering on shorter term targets.

And because of team work, BTCL accomplished a lot most  significantly it grew its  revenues by nearly 50% at a time when prices fell materially and improved Mobile market share by 8 percentage points.  
beMOBILE which now has approximately 500,000 customers also enhanced its Mobile Average Revenue Per User(ARPU) by nearly 250 percent.

BTCL Board of Directors Deputy Chairperson, Mr. Gerald Nthobolan, said Mr. Taylor, oversaw the asset separation and managed the transition that created BOFINET and the eventual listing of the Company on the Botswana Stock Exchange, through an IPO, the first ever Government owned company to do so.

BTCL Acting Managing Director, Mr. Anthony Masunga, paid tribute to Mr. Taylor saying he learnt a lot from him and vowed to follow on his footsteps and grow the company even further.

Mr. Steven Johane, a BTCL employee, described Mr. Taylor as a father figure who was always willing to listen and engage irrespective of one’s status or position in the Company.

For his part, Mr. Taylor, said in the early days the team had to work hard to create a trusting industrial relations environment.  He was pleased to see the former and current Presidents of Botswana Telecommunication Employee Union (BOTEU) at the event.

When Mr. Taylor started, BTCL had three business units and lacked converged systems.  “We worked tirelessly to consolidate BTCL operations and move it towards one organization, one brand and improve efficiency and customer experience,” he said.

Though much has been accomplished and a lot remains to be done, BTCL he said is poised for continued growth and success, urging the new leadership to continue with the job of moving the company forward.  

Mr. Taylor thanked the Board, the whole BTCL team and the Union for the great support over the years to help drive BTCL forward and deliver on its mandate.

“I have learnt a lot during my time with BTCL, made many friends and feel a strong sense of satisfaction at what the team contributed to the development of this nation’s economy.”  

The former Managing Director whose contract ended on 19th July has vowed to continue serving the Nation.

“Whilst I have now left BTCL it is my intention to remain in Botswana and continue to contribute, in some form, to the nation and industry. So it is goodbye from the former Managing Director of BTCL but it is not goodbye from Paul Taylor.”

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020

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.

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Finance Committee cautions Gov’t against imprudent raising of debt levels

21st September 2020
Finance Committe Chairman: Thapelo Letsholo

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.

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Gov’t Investment Account drying up fast!  

21st September 2020
Dr Matsheka

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”

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