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Business Botswana recruits in Letlhakane

Business Botswana, formerly Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) is hard at work in Letlhakane, mobilising the business community and engaging in an intensive recruitment drive that would lead to the organisation setting up office in the region.

BOCCIM Regional Manager, Mr Kebaabetswe recently visited the village, to interact with the business community and spell out their roadmap.

In an interview with the chairperson of the Letlhakane Business Community and Business Botswana representative in Letlhakane Mr Anthony D’souza Dancho following their series of meetings with the business community, he said Business Botswana (BB) is on a recruitment drive in Letlhakane to raise awareness about its role and the need for the Boteti business community to be represented at the highest business consultative council in the country.

He said owing to the recent transformation developments where BOCCIM changed its name to Business Botswana, it was necessary for the organization to clearly spell out its mandate and engage with businesses across the spectrum and on the ground to sensetise them on their new role and roadmap.

Mr Dancho said there is need for the business community to come together to speak as a collective and with one voice on issues that concern them and on community developments initiatives.

He said if the Boteti business community agreed on one vision and on combining their collective resources and capabilities, the bustling mining region would become a vibrant centre of developments.  He said business owners have a role to play in assisting the government to create employment and prepare an enable and responsive environment for businesses and communities to prosper.

One of their plans he revealed is to set-up an office in Letlhakane to relive the Regional office in Francistown of the workload and help with mobilization of the business community to unite under one body.

He said subsequent to their consultations, businesses in Boteti would be grouped according to their sectors to represent their interests in the apex body of Business Botswana.

“our plan is for taxi drives to have a representative, farmers, hair salons, property investors, hardware shops and others to also have a representative who will represent them in the regional body and ultimately at the highest structures so that their issues and perspectives can be known and addressed.”  He said.

He called on the Letlhakane business community to join Business Botswana to help address the transformation challenges that require businesses to partner with the government to develop the country.  He said the business community can no longer be spectators in developments and that working together they can build schools and recreational facilities for communities without government handouts or assistance.

He said the government can also play a role of nudging them forward by making it compulsory for businesses to subscribe to Business Botswana when registering to operate in Botswana as that would go a long way in incentivizing them to recognize their crucial role in society and play it accordingly. He said businesses should not fear membership fees but should see the vision and huge potential of an organized business community that is united and speaks with one voice.

He said businesses should view it as their innate role to support a self-funded Business Botswana as a membership organization that can thrive with their support and in turn help drive the country to massive success. 

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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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