Following a successful turnaround during the 2014 fiscal year, G4S has continued the good performance streak into 2015. In the recently released financial results for the year ended 31 December 2015, the security solutions provider has grown its revenue 3.8% to a little over P192 million. The growth in revenue was realized due to strong growth all the segments which include Cash Solutions, Manned Security and Facilities Management. However, the Electronic Systems segment showed a decline and this the company attributes to “deliberate initiatives to right size the alarm monitoring subscriber base for credit reasons.”
Earnings before tax went up 12.4% to P38.4 million while net earnings grew 6% to P29.1 million. G4S attributes improved profitability to “new and retained business as a result of sustained operational stability, success of cost efficiency programs, and investment income out of a healthy cash flow.”
Company directors have expressed satisfaction with the results and promised to on “implementation of productivity and other cost efficiency programs in order to sustain and grow profitability.” They see good growth prospects across all segments of the business. They plan to roll out innovative product offerings in integrated security, cash solutions and risk management among others. A 10.88 thebe per share dividend, gross of tax, was declared.
At the end of 2014, G4S staged at dramatic turnaround never before seen in our shores. Amid tough trading conditions which resulted from the modest growth of the economy, G4S announced a 498.5% leap in profit before tax. This was while other BSE players were struggling; Barclays Bank Botswana had grown its earnings by 5.6% for the year ended December 2014, Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited was at 4%, Choppies at 21%, and First National Bank Botswana and Standard Chartered Bank at -5% and 21% respectively, for their half year results. On the same results, G4S had also attained a 25% reduction in overhead costs, 498% rise in equity per share, and a hefty dividend pay-out of over P16 million when compared to the previous year’s P5.6 million.
This was after the company had been on the red. In 2013, the Michael Kampani led outfit’s profits were in rapid decline. The company’s profit before tax had dropped 69% from P29 million in 2012 to 9 million. The profits dropped further to the lowest the company ever garnered of P6 million in 2013. Though the company’s revenue growth had seen a marginal growth of 0.7%, there was nothing else to highlight. The company’s net earnings attributable to shareholders had dropped 31,9%, impairment on trade receivables were going through the roof, there was a sharp decline in investment income as the company had invested dizzying sums of money in the acquisition of a facilities management company, which brought about a ‘headache’ with the protracted licensing matter. G4S quality of service was also declining with the alarm response time having assumed the pace of a snail which resulted in loss of market share in some areas of the operation.
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.
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.
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”