The Botswana Stock exchange appears to be on its way to close the month on an upward trajectory as it seeks to reverse the losses it incurred in the first quarter of the year which saw the domestic company index ( DCI) down at -3.8%.
The DCI began the month of April with 10,202 points but by the last Thursday of the month, the DCI was up by 105.34 points to close at 10,307 points, representing a monthly gain of 1% and subduing this year’s losses to -2.8%. DCI Index gained 310.6 points or 3.1 % during the last 12 months from 9,999.21 points in April of 2015.
The DCI’s upward momentum was stimulated by the listing of Botswana Telecommunications Limited (BTCL) whose shares appreciated by 30% to P1.30 on the first week pushing the index to appreciate by 0.62%.
The momentum was carried forward on the second week with the benchmark index slightly increasing by o.09% after BTCL shares further appreciated by 5% before settling down again to P1.30 same week, other gains were realised through First National Bank Botswana (0.3%), Letshego (0.4%), Engen (0.6%) and Cresta(0.9%). The downside for that week came through a sharp decline of 2.8% from Furnmart as investors priced in the information that the furniture store will report a loss. Letlole La Rona, a property listed stock also shed of 0.5% from its share price.
For the 3rd week, it was gains led by Letshego(1.6%), Choppies(0.2%), Letlole La rona(0.5%) and Primetime(0.3), which helped nudge the DCI up by 0.10% despite the downside pressures from G4s and BTCL shedding off 0.3% and 3.8% respectively.
In the final week of the month, it was Letshego again rallying the troops as it gained 0.38% followed by Botswana Insurance Holdings as it appreciated by 0.06%. However, the DCI was weighed heavily by the plummeting BTCL shares which lost a whopping 10%, followed by FNBB (0.56%) to trade at its lowest price for the year.
It was been an interesting month for the BSE observers as they watched a villain becoming a hero and a hero becoming a villain. While the DCI was down in the first quarter, many put the blame at Letshego’s door as the company had lost as much as 13.8% in the past 3 months. During that period, Letshego’s shares were the most traded, bringing in P339.1 million. The pan-African financial services provider has since turned a new leaf, with its share price rising from P2.51 to P2.66, delivering a return of 6% just under one month to reduce its losses this year to 8%. The company’s subsidiary in Mozambique was recently issued the official principle issuer license by MasterCard.
In another interesting development, the BSE will have a new entrant on its main domestic counter on the 4th of May. The FAR Property Company has completed its IPO results this week which also followed the trend of oversubscription. The public offer was made up of 20 million units available for members of the public while the other 20 million was put to private placement, both at the offer price of P2.57.
The 40 million linked units that were on offer are expected to raise about P100 million. The founders have also entered in agreement to dispose of 40 million linked units to selected institutional investors. In total, the company will list 380 million units on the BSE. The 380 million units comprises of 79% held by the founders, 20.7% held by the public while the rest will be held by associates and directors of the company as well as associates of the founder.
BSE HALTS TRADING OF BTCL SHARES
On the other hand, BTCL which became a hero in the beginning of April when it listed to much fanfare and ushering in a record breaking number of citizen investors to the stock market has been left fumbling. The BTCL became a must have stock for investors as its IPO was oversubscribed, and its debut was in a spectacular fashion as it shot up by 30% of first day of trading.
By second week of trading, its share price was now up by 35% but soon after things became to unravel. From its high debut price of P1.30, the stock has been pummelled to P1.12, a 13.8% decline. On Thursday, the BSE issued a halt in trading of BTCL shares. “The BSE has decided to halt trading on the shares of BTCL with immediate effect. The trading halt decision comes to allow for the dissemination of information through BSE regarding changes to BTCL Employee Share Trust.
The trading halt shall be lifted once the company publishes details of the changes to the public,” according to the issued note.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.