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First Protea Hotel in Botswana

Protea Hotels continues expansion on the African continent:

Protea Hotels this announced the signing of agreements for the development of its first hotel in Botswana, the ninth country in Africa in which the brand will have a presence.  First established in South Africa, Protea Hotels has expanded over recent years into Zambia, Nigeria, Namibia, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana.

“This latest development reflects our ongoing commitment to doing business in Africa, and to providing the sort of quality accommodation and facilities that the market in Africa is calling for,” says Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa for Marriott International. Marriott International, the parent company of Protea Hotels, plans to open over 93 hotels – equating to 19 000 additional rooms – in the Middle East & Africa region between now and 2025. This year alone, 17 new hotels will be opened in the region, adding close to 3 000 new rooms.  As regards Africa more specifically, 10 new hotels are scheduled to open during 2016, bringing an additional 1 623 rooms to the market.

“Characterised by prudent economic management and political stability, Botswana is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and is classified by the World Bank as an upper-middle income state.  With this sort of economic success and the positive outlook for the country, we certainly see strong value in this venture in Botswana.”

Protea’s new property, scheduled to open in early 2018, will be located in the capital, Gaborone. It is strategically positioned in the new Central Business District of the city where there are a number of recently-developed corporate head offices, government offices and various retail facilities.  The hotel’s site was carefully selected for its visibility and accessibility; a prominent location near two of the city’s main roads. 

The hotel will offer 160 rooms of various sizes and types, and will also feature substantial conference, meeting and event facilities. The large ballroom, designed for versatile use, can be converted into four meeting rooms, giving the hotel the ability to host up to eight meetings at any time – four in the ballroom and four in the other meeting rooms that are planned.   Other facilities include a business centre, bar, restaurant, fitness centre and outdoor pool.

Kyriakidis highlights the strength of the Protea Hotels brand within the sub-Saharan region, commenting that: “Protea Hotels enjoys a strong reputation as a leader in the hotel industry, and we are very confident that this new development will create a positive impact. The Hotel represents a significant investment in the local economy and, in addition to offering new hospitality facilities, it will be appreciated because of the new employment opportunities to be created for local citizens.”

Guests staying at this Protea Hotel, as well as at all Protea Hotels throughout Africa, are able to earn Marriott Rewards points that can be redeemed at Marriott International properties around the world. Members can also redeem points for frequent flyer miles, cruises, car rentals, merchandise and more. To enrol in this leading hotel rewards programme, guests should visit MarriottRewards.com.

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

21st September 2020
Botswana-on-high-alert-as-AML-joins-Covid-19-to-plague-mankind-

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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