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Barclays introduces “let’s get up and go” for youth


As part of efforts to address the numerous challenges that young Batswana face Barclays Bank Botswana has introduced a “let’s get up and go” motive for vulnerable youth in Ngamiland district.

Barclays Bank Botswana in partnership with UNAIDS and Project Concern International (PCI) has since December 2014 been implementing a Youth Education and Empowerment Project (YEEP) named Tweende which translate to “lets get up and go”.  Barclays bank funded the one year project to the tune of 1 Million Pula. The project targets vulnerable young people aged between 18-35 years in the Ngamiland East District.

Other partners in the project include PCI Botswana, Botswana Family Welfare Association (BOFWA), Youth in Business Botswana (YIBBO) and Ngamiland Council of Non- Governmental Organizations (NCONGO).

The aim of the project is to provide employability, income generating opportunities and also reduce youth vulnerability to social ills such as HIV/AIDS. According to Barclays bank the four facets of the Tweende project is to;

“Provide financial literacy education to the target of 750 youth who will be trained in financial management skills and also linked to financial services. Give training on social life skills to around 300 youths. Also in partnership with private companies and government some will be trained on employability skills through being placed in jobs. Teach youth entrepreneurship skills and increased opportunities with 50 youth being assisted with their businesses start and also provide mentoring to them.”

According to Barclays Bank, by the end of February 2015, the project had successfully implemented some of its aims with 826 youth reaching with basic financial literacy skills using Barclays’ financial literacy curriculum of money matters, surpassing the project target of 750 youth.

Also of the 826 who attended the financial literacy training, 687 passed a rigorous  selection process to qualify for the next level of Aflateen that teaches them social and life skills, 354 has already graduated from Aflateen recently.

Tweende project was this week launched in Maun; the event attracted a number of public figures which among them was the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Thapelo Olopeng, United Nations Resident Coordinator Anders Pedersen, PCI Country Director Dorothy Tlagae and the Barclays Bank Botswana Managing Director Reinette Van Der Merwe.

At the launch, Barclays’ Van Der Merwe said that the Tweende project forms an integral part of the Barclays strategy on youth employability, enterprise and financial literacy skills which is the bank’s primary focus under its “five million young futures strategy” which is in its final lap. She added that Barclays aims to equip young people with skills that can help them be active and participating citizens in the development of the country.

“Unemployment is a major problem for the country and it can be a foundation for other social ills that impact on youth such as HIV/AIDS, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy among others. This needs a multi pronged approach when addressing them. The project is also necessary for the country to be able to meet the goals of vision 2016 and the revised national youth policy that seeks to give youth every opportunity to reach their full potential as members of the society,” Van Der Merwe expressed.

According to 2011 population Census, Maun is the 3rd largest village in Botswana having a population of 60 263, with an additional 5 430 coming from surrounding villages. The youth aged 20 -34 years are reported to account for 56% of the population with 25% of them being unemployed.  Also HIV prevalence in the Ngamiland district is reported to be at 13.5% (10.6% being males and 15.4 as females).

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020
Botswana-on-high-alert-as-AML-joins-Covid-19-to-plague-mankind-

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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