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Greece spells out terms for debt crisis ‘breakthrough’

Leaders of Greece's creditors – the ECB, IMF, European Commission and European Council – met to discuss strategy before Monday's summit

Greece's economy minister has spelled out the terms of new proposals to end deadlock on its debt crisis, amid hopes a deal can now be struck this week.

It includes new taxes on businesses and the wealthy, Giorgios Stathakis told the BBC in an exclusive interview.

Eurozone finance ministers have welcomed the plan, saying there could be a deal "within days".

Greece will default if it does not repay a €1.6bn (£1.1bn) IMF loan by the end of the month.

If that happens, it risks crashing out of the single currency and possibly the EU.

Mr Stathakis told the BBC's Robert Peston he was confident Greece's new proposals to balance the government's books had broken the deadlock with its creditors.

He said the proposals also included an increase in the VAT rate for some selected items.

Greece's economy minister Giorgios Stathakis told me that his Syriza government, led by Alexis Tsipras, had avoided crossing its red lines with the new proposals.

So, he said, there would be no further reductions in pensions or public-sector wages. And there would be no increase in VAT on electricity.

He also said that the government had agreed with the IMF and eurozone governments that the targeted budget surplus would be 1% of GDP or national income this year, 2% next year and 3% the year after.

There will be no agreement with creditors to cut Greece's massive burden of debt, despite Syriza's earlier insistence on this. But Mr Stathakis told me he expects eurozone government heads to issue a communique later saying that debt relief will be on the agenda for negotiation in coming months.

An emergency Eurogroup summit in Brussels is still due to go ahead later on Monday.

Talks have been in deadlock for five months. The European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB) are unwilling to unlock the final €7.2bn tranche of bailout funds until Greece agrees to economic reforms.

Separately, the European Central Bank (ECB) again increased its emergency funding for Greek banks after anxious savers withdrew more than €4bn in recent days.

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, who has ruled out pension cuts, higher power rates, and an excessive budget surplus, said he hoped Greece would "return to growth within the eurozone".

He met the heads of Greece's three international creditors in Brussels, ahead of his talks with the leaders of 18 other eurozone nations.

'Broad and comprehensive'

But eurozone finance ministers said they were not given enough time to study them for a proper assessment, amid confusion over different versions of the Greek proposals submitted.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Dijsselbloem described the proposals as "broad and comprehensive", but said work was needed to check they added up "in fiscal terms".

Earlier, Germany's Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters he had not seen anything new from Greece so far and "without anything new, there is nothing for the ministers to prepare for their leaders". The Irish and Finnish finance ministers echoed the sentiment.

News of a possible breakthrough gave a boost to stock markets, with Greece's main stock exchange jumping 9% by the end of trading on Monday.

The deadline for Greece to pay back a slice of its loan is 30 June, but a last-minute deal would make it difficult to arrange the logistics of transferring the money.

A separate European Council summit is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, and its agenda is packed.

 

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Gov’t shy to shame failing ministers

22nd February 2021
Morwaeng

Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.

Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.

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Bokamoso, Gov’t in P10M womb removal suit

22nd February 2021
Bokamoso

Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.

The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.

According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.

Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead.
According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.

“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.

The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.

The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.

Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.

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Masisi warned against a sinking Botswana

22nd February 2021
Ndaba GAolatlhe

The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.

Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty.  “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.

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