The value addition of the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) remains hazy with the recent budget failing to breakdown the estimated injection of P3billion over the two year period.
The rationale behind the ESP is to support domestic economic activities in the short-term while providing a foundation for sustainable growth for the economy in the long-term through investment in infrastructural development.
Presenting the 2016/17 budget speech, the minister of Finance and development planning Kenneth Matambo noted that the implementation of the ESP is scheduled to start in earnest in the 2016/2017 financial year.
However the expectation was for Matambo to explicitly reveal how much is going to be spent under the stimulus package, how many jobs will be created and then give estimates on its contribution to the deteriorating economic growth.
The minister proposed about P37 billion for the recurrent budget .From the P14 billion proposed under the development budget for the coming financial year, Matambo only mentioned a handful of projects under the stimulus programme amounting to a total of a mere P1.3 billion.
Sharing his views on the ESP, Research Manger at First National Bank (FNB) Moathlodi Sebabole said “the estimated value of over P3billion towards ESP over a 2-year period is not broken down into new money and existing money within the budgetary process and thus it is difficult to estimate the value add of ESP over and above the projects which will have been budgeted for in anyway.”
Sebabole highlighted that that the likelihood of job creation exists, however, more temporal as opposed to sustainable in nature. The targeted sectors include tourism development, agricultural production, construction and manufacturing.
“This is primarily due to the nature of most of the established ESP jobs which will involve construction and maintenance contracts both of which are finite in nature,” he said.
Further, Sebabole said even though the economy remains healthy, it is under pressure just like a lot of emerging markets economies. “It is worth noting that there are levers to pool for combination of savings drawdown and debt utilization in order to finance the envisaged deficits,” he said.
The economy is now expected to have grown around 1% in 2015, as supply side shocks of water and electricity continue to negate growth, whereas mining downturns also affect the overall health of the economy.
“At FNBB, we expect growth to remain below trend even in 2016 at sub-3% levels as mining recovery is expected to remain mild, while non-mining private sector will remain under pressure due to supply side shocks of water and electricity,” he said.
After three years of fiscal budget surpluses since 2011/12, the fiscal budget is now expected to undergo deficits in the current fiscal year and fiscal year 2016/17. This is on the back-drop of declining mineral revenue as commodity prices remain low and diamond sales are not as robust as prior years.
Additionally, the downturn in South African economy, as well as a weak rand has affected the SACU revenue which consists over 26% of the revenue. On the other hand, expenditure is expected to gradually grow for supplementary financing of backlog of projects and quasi-government organizations which are loss making such as BPC, WUC – coupled with some relief measures for drought and welfare.
The deficits are expected to total over P10billion in the two years, with FY15/16 deficit estimated at -2.8% of GDP, while the FY16/17 deficit is estimated at -3.2% of GDP – against threshold of budget deficit of -4% of GDP.
As stated in the budget speech, the deficits are expected to be financed from a combination of drawdown on government savings which total P35bio and debt participation as the total debt-to-GDP levels remain below threshold of 40%.
Sebabole said the deficits show a counter-cyclical cycle that the economy is currently running. “The risks in the medium term will arise if global recoveries do not come sooner, and thus government revenue remains under pressure for a while. Extended global volatilities might result in extended deficits, which might force government to enforce some fiscal austerities,” he stated.
He emphasized the need for government to effectively implement the projects as there is still underutilization of allocated funds, despite projects needs and backlogs. Sebabole said the untimely delivery of projects and quality of infrastructure projects raises need to accelerate active public-private-partnership in delivery of projects.
In his view the low debt-to-GDP ratios provide an opportunity for government to issue more bonds to finance the deficit, as well as engage private sector institutions to finance and act as advisory for some of the mega projects.
Total revenues and grants for 2016/17 are estimated at P48.40 billion, a decrease of P3.36 billion compared to the revised budget of P51.76 billion for 2015/16 due to a projected fall of 6.9 per cent in mineral revenues and 23.8 per cent in customs and excise receipts.
Mineral revenue contributes 35.2 per cent of the total revenues, followed by Customs and Excise at 24.3 per cent. Non-Mineral Income Tax and Value Added Tax come third and fourth at 21.2 per cent and 12.4 per cent respectively.
The recent study on youth entrepreneurship in Botswana has identified difficult access to funding, land, machinery, lack of entrepreneurial mindset and proper training as serious challenges that continue to hamper youth entrepreneurship development in this country.
The study conducted by Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) in collaboration with University of Botswana has confirmed that despite the government and private sector multi-billion pula entrepreneurship development initiatives, many young people in Botswana continue to fail to grow their businesses into sustainable and successful companies that can help reduce unemployment.
University of Botswana researchers Gaofetege Ganamotse and Rudolph Boy who compiled findings in the 2022 study report for Botswana stated that as part of the study interviews were conducted with successful youth entrepreneurs to understand their critical success factors.
According to the researchers other participants were community leaders, business mentors, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, financial institutions, higher education institutions, non-governmental institutions, policymakers, private organizations, and support structures such as legal and technical experts and accountants who were interviewed to understand how they facilitate successful youth entrepreneurship.
The researchers said they found that although Botswana government is perceived as the most supportive to businesses when compared to other governments in sub-Saharan Africa, youth entrepreneurs still face challenges when accessing government funding. “Several finance-related challenges were identified by youth entrepreneurs. Some respondents lamented the lack of access to start-up finance, whereas others mentioned lack of access to infrastructure.”
The researchers stated that in Botswana entrepreneurship is not yet perceived as a field or career of choice by many youth “Participants in the study emphasized that the many youth are more of necessity entrepreneurs, seeing business venturing as a “fall back. Other facilitators mentioned that some youth do not display creativity, mind-blowing innovative solutions, and business management skills. Some youth entrepreneurs like to take shortcuts like selling sweets or muffins.”
According to the researchers, some of the youth do not display perseverance when they are faced with adversity in business. “Young people lack of an entrepreneurial mindset is a common challenge among youth in business. Some have a mindset focused on free services, handouts, and rapid gains. They want overnight success. As such, they give up easily when faced with challenges. On the other hand, some participants argue that they may opt for quick wins because they do not have access to any land, machinery, offices, and vehicles.”
The researchers stated that most youth involved in business ventures do not have the necessary training or skills to maintain a business. “Poor financial management has also been cited as one of the challenges for youth entrepreneurs, such as using profit for personal reasons rather than investing in the business. Also some are not being able to separate their livelihood from their businesses.
Lastly, youth entrepreneurs reported a lack of experience as one of the challenges. For example, the experience of running a business with projections, sticking to the projections, having an accounting system, maintaining a clean and clear billing system, and sound administration system.”
According to the researchers, the participants in the study emphasized that there is fragmentation within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby there is replication of business activities without any differentiation. “There is no integration of the ecosystem players. As such, they end up with duplicate programs targeting the same objectives. The financial sector recommended that there is a need for an intermediary body that will bring all the ecosystem actors together and serve as a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs and build mentorship programs that accommodate the business lifecycle from inception to growth.”
Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is said to have recorded an operating surplus of P61 Million, an improvement compared to the previous year. The housing, office and other building needs giant met with stakeholders recently to share how the business has been.
The P61 million is a significant increase against the P6 million operating loss realized in the prior year. Profit before income tax also increased significantly from P2 million in the prior year to P72 million which resulted in an overall increase in surplus after tax from P1 million prior year to P64 million for the year under review.
Chief of Finance Officer, Diratsagae Kgamanyane disclosed; “This growth in surplus was driven mainly by rental revenue that increased by 15% from P209 million to P240 million and reduction in expenditure from P272 million to P214 million on the back of cost containment.” He further stated that sales of high margin investment properties also contributed significantly to the growth in surplus as well as impairment reversals on receivables amounting to P25 million.
It is said that the Corporation recorded a total revenue of P702 million, an 8% decrease when compared to the P760 million recorded in the prior year. “Sales revenue which is one of the major revenue streams returned impressive margins, contributing to the overall growth in the gross margin,” added Kgamanyane.
He further stated professional fees revenue line declined significantly by 64% to P5 million from P14 million in the prior year which attributed to suspension of planned projects by their clients due to Covid-19 pandemic. “Facilities Management revenue decreased by P 24 million from P69 million recorded in prior year to P45 million due to reduction in projects,” Kgamanyane said.
The Corporation’s strength is on its investment properties portfolio that stood at P1.4 billion at the end of the reporting period. “The Corporation continues its strategy to diversify revenue streams despite both facilities management income and professional fees being challenged by the prevailing economic conditions that have seen its major clients curtailing spending,” added the CEO.
On the one hand, the Corporation’s Strategic Performance which intended to build 12 300 houses by 2023 has so far managed to build 4 830 houses under their SHHA funding scheme, 1 240 houses for commercial or external use which includes use by government and 1 970 houses to rent to individuals.
BHC Acting CEO Pascaline Sefawe noted that; BHC’s planned projects are said to include building 336 flat units in Gaborone Block 7 at approximately P224 million, 100 units in Maun at approximately P78 million, 13 units in Phakalane at approximately P26 million, 212 units in Kazungula at approximately P160 million, 96 units at approximately P42 million in Francistown and 84 units at approximately P61 million in Letlhakane. Emphasing; “People tend to accuse us of only building houses in Gaborone, so here we are, including other areas in our planned projects.”
Researchers from some government owned regulatory institutions in the financial sector have projected that the banking sector’s profitability could increase, following Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee recent decision to increase monetary policy rate.
In its bid to manage inflation, Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee last month increased monetary policy rate by 0.50 percent from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent, a development which resulted with commercial banking sector increasing interest rate in lending to household and companies. As a result of BoB adjustment of Monetary Policy Rate, from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent commercial banks increased prime lending rate from 5.76 percent to 6.26 percent.
Researchers from Bank of Botswana, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, the Financial Intelligence Agency and the Botswana Stock Exchange indicated that due to prospects of high inflation during the second half of 2022, there is a possibility that the Monetary Policy Committee could further increase monetary policy rate in the next meeting in August 25 2022.
Inflation rose from 9.6 percent in April 2022 to 11.9 percent in May 2022, remaining above the Bank of Botswana medium-term objective range of 3 – 6 percent. According to the researchers inflation could increase further and remain high due to factors that include: the potential increase in international commodity prices beyond current forecasts, logistical constraints due to lags in production, the economic and price effects of the ongoing Russia- Ukraine conflict, uncertain COVID-19 profile, domestic risk factors relating to possible regular annual administered price adjustments, short-term unintended consequences of import restrictions resulting with shortages in supplies leading to price increases, as well as second-round effects of the recent increases in administered prices “Furthermore, the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices could add upward pressure to inflation,” said the researchers.
The researchers indicated that Bank of Botswana could be forced to further increase monetary policy rate from the current 2.15 percent if inflation rises persistently. “Should inflation rise persistently this could necessitate an upward adjustment in the policy rate. It is against this background that the interest rate scenario assumes a 1.5 percentage points (moderate scenario) and 2.25 percentage points (severe scenario) upward adjustment in the policy rate,” said the researchers.
The researchers indicated that while any upward adjustment on BoB monetary policy rate and commercial banks prime lending rate result with increase in the cost of borrowing for household and compnies, it increase profitability for the banking sector. “Increases in the policy rate are associated with an overall increase in bank profitability, with resultant increases in the capital adequacy ratio of 0.1 percentage points and 0.2 percentage points for the moderate and severe scenarios, respectively,” said the researchers who added that upward adjustment in monetary policy rate would raise extra capital for the banking sector.
“The increase in profit generally reflects the banking industry’s positive interest rate gap, where interest earning assets exceed interest earning liabilities maturing in the next twelve months. Therefore, an increase of 1.5 percentage points in the policy rate would result in industry gains of P71.7 million (4.1 percent increase), while a 2.25 percentage points increase would lead to a gain of P173.9 million (6.1 percent increase), dominated by large banks,” said the researchers.