Ever heard the old idiom, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”? Meaning if you are happy with the way something works then don’t change it. This way of thinking has become somewhat misplaced in the modern era that we live in.
Perhaps it works when you are talking about a couch that you have had since your college days 10 years ago. If it’s still in good shape and comfy then agreed, don’t change it. I concede there are instances where this saying still applies.
But where this indisputably does not apply is in the world of commerce and industry. In this space if you are not able to make the right decisions and changes at crucial stages of development then you are setting yourself up for failure. In this world we know that yesterday’s success is today’s benchmark.
So we shouldn’t get lost in the celebrations of past success. In other words, give your successes, as a person or company, a time limit. Do this so that you don’t become so fixated on the past that you lose all relevance to the present. Around the world today innovation happens at a rapid rate.
Today’s brand of innovation is incredibly weary of benchmarks of yesteryear and seeks to distance itself from the past in order to clear the path to efficient ways of doing things in the future. Here at home, innovation is a highly sought after commodity. Companies are mindful of the necessity to ensure their businesses are not just benchmarking but go beyond and look to the future.
Incorporating technology into all possible aspects of the business is one way of insuring the company is poised and ready for eventual technological advancements. Companies don’t want to be sent into a panic when “innovation strikes”.
We are slowly but surely shifting to tech-driven solutions that allow for seamless integration and interoperability so that when innovation does come it actually serves us as appose to alienate us. Take electronic recruitment for instance. Human resource practitioners around the world are switching to this new tech-based form of recruiting.
And locally we are not too find behind. Botswana’s top companies are aligning themselves to these methods because they are a lot more efficient and offer automated tools that streamline the recruitment process to the advantage of the companies. Everything is now becoming digital and paperless. HR departments are looking to the future in terms of talent, their aim is to build talent pools today for the future.
Through the use of recruitment software, social media, online job boards and other tech-based tools at their disposal, mammoth tasks like talent mapping now become a cinch. Yes, companies can accept applicant CV’s in hard copy form but what happens to that wad of paper once it leaves the receptionist desk? Say it does get to the right person, how long will it be safe in that person’s office for before it ends up in the wrong stack of papers and is sent to the shredder?
Even if the CV does manage to allude all the dangers of obscurity what happens to it once it is reviewed but the candidate isn’t successful? Especially in the case where the HR practitioner has identified certain attractive skills and experience in the candidate that he could utilize in the future? By the time an opening has arisen 9 times out of 10 the specific CV will be nowhere to be found.
The organization loses out on valuable talent and the applicant misses out on a livelihood. So you see the disservice to the applicant is actually accepting a hard copy. Accepting a job applicant’s hard copy CV is the couch that isn’t broken in this instance. It has worked for years, so why change it now? This type of benchmarking is not even from this century. It exhibits a serious need to innovate. Remember mainframes? Don’t worry, I don’t either.
Mainframes displaced adding machines in the 1950s, only to be uprooted by personal computers (PCs) in the 1980s. Today, PCs are being displaced by services that leverage the wireless internet and cloud computing, working on a wide range of devices from tablets to TVs (and soon eyeglasses and watches). Benchmarks tend to miss these revolutions. Since they’re backward looking, their indices reflect yesterday’s successes, not tomorrow’s.
So benchmark-sensitive or index-tracking approaches will be overly bound to legacy technologies. In contrast, active managers can look forward and capture innovation well before it’s reflected in the benchmark. I am greatly encouraged by the practitioners I meet every day.
They truly have their fingers on the pulse of innovative ways of fulfilling their mandates. I present Careerpool to practitioners as an e-recruitment tool whose functionality allows for, amongst other things, talent mapping and the creation of a secure, easy to navigate database or talent pool. From then on they express to me where they see our alignment and interoperability with their current systems as well as other e-recruitment systems they are putting in place.
This is greatly encouraging as it shows we have a willingness to change and try out an array of multifaceted solutions through technological innovation. We may only be a developing country but we are employing First World thinking to the way we work to ensure a brighter future for us all.
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”