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NDB cracks whip on top 20 non-performing loans


The Management of the National Development Bank (NDB) is accused of interfering in debt collection of some accounts in which they have strong interests, the WeekendPost can reveal.


This publication has established that as a result of a decline in financial position, the bank is on a debt collection rampage and, to achieve this, it has identified top 20 accounts that contribute significantly to the Non Performing Loan (NPL).


This publication has intercepted communication between the bank Senior Monitoring Officer and Credit Portfolio Manager concerning the alleged management interference.   


It is understood that a department at the bank – Monitoring and Collection Unit has been mandated to reduce the Loan Book to acceptable levels but management is poking its nose in the operations of the department.
The Senior Monitoring Officer Modiri Itseng indicated in the communiqué that management was prying in the accounts of Trilobite Holdings, Tomorrow (pty) Ltd and Tati River Lodge – which altogether owe NDB almost P30 million.


With regard to Trilobite Holdings, Itseng stated in his complainant letter that after Trilobite failed to pay off its arrears and while they were at a time of issuance of a summons to the company, they received an instruction from the Chief Operating Officer (COO) to “halt collections activity until given a go ahead” by him.


“We are not aware of the reasons advanced by the COO as to why we should not demand payment from the client given the status of the account,” the letter stated.


Itseng further decried that it seemed that the said client was given preferential treatment under circumstances that may be questionable. He went on to say, “you will further recall that the promoter owns Lurid Investments (pty) ltd which is currently being written off after the client was favoured with a discounted settlement of over P149,000. 00. The total amount being written off is over P177,000.00.”


This publication has also gathered that Trilobite Holdings is under the directorship of a renowned farmer Monty Chiepe. The account contributes to over a whooping P10 million on the bank NPL book.


According to Itseng, another company, the Tati River Lodge‘s account, as per the end of January portfolio report contributed to over 8million on the NPL book.


Itseng stated in the letter that Tati River Lodge in Francistown failed to pay as advised and they commenced collections process demanding payment of arrears failing which, legal proceedings would have been instituted.


“Upon following the rightful procedure of which we were on the verge of having a summons issued, the COO, without advising the collections team handling the account, committed the bank in agreement with the client by signing an offer letter of rescheduling the loan account,” he said.


According to the Senior Monitoring officer, this lack of communication from the COO’s office has in part defeated the purpose of arrears collection.


“Non collection, in this instance a rescheduling without prior payment by client is detrimental to the state of the business in that, our cash flow is adversely affected. A rescheduling is merely a postponement of payment which the bank should not encourage. (Unless the clients demonstrate commitment by reducing arrears before rescheduling is considered)” he pointed out.


According to the Senior Monitoring Officer, staff morale at the bank was also affected as the lack of communication reflected that there was no trust that officers could fully execute their duties without senior management interference.


“This was not only demoralizing to officers attempting to collect from the client, it was also embarrassing to have issued conflicting and contradicting information from the same bank.”


It is understood that Tati River Lodge’s sister company Prideaux (by the same directors) – was foreclosed due to default of payment.


It also said that judgement was granted in favour of the bank but the deputy sheriff, duly instructed by the internal attorney responsible for collections was stopped from executing the writ.


“I have been reliably informed by Senior Collections Officers in Francistown that the instruction not to execute was issued by the COO. Prideaux contributed over P1.7million in NPL as at end of January portfolio report,” Itseng stated.


Another similar intervention by the NDB COO was exercised in respect of Tomorrow (pty) Ltd, whose account also is a major contributor to the NPL book, adding over 8 million as at end of January 2015. The client was offered rescheduling of the loan account without the officers who were pursuing the client to pay off the arrears being informed.


“Please note that we have agreed with you that clients should be advised to demonstrate commitment by reducing arrears before indulgence to reschedule could be given. This was to be the case on accounts with high arrears and contribute significantly to the NPL book such as the above stated accounts,” the NDB official lambasted.


Itseng further stated he believed that the same clients that NDB management was always willing to give indulgence to were servicing their loans elsewhere for fear of litigation, but are taking advantage of being considered “high profile clients” by NDB and that they could phone the CEO to avoid servicing the loans. 

“This is an impediment to our collection strategy efforts. I therefore employ you to impress upon the CEO and COO, to let us, through your office and that of the Head of Operations carry out our mandates to manage the bank’s portfolio and collect,” he decried.


Itseng reminded the Credit Portfolio Manager that, “you will recall that on several meetings, both the Head of Operations and yourself have continued to remind us of our targets and the ultimate goal of the recovery plan the bank has embarked on, which is to collect on ALL arreared loans in order to reduce our NPL and improve our cash flow. It comes as a surprise that you have forwarded the instruction form the COO’s office without interrogation and subsequent explanation to the collection team regarding the suspension of collection on the account.”


The accounts are also said to be targeted by the Collections Strategy Project Implementation Committee which reduces loans because of their value and resultant contribution to the Non Performing Loan Book.
The Project Implementation Committee is tasked to among other things, follow up on the top 20 accounts (including the 3 stated) and demand payment of arrears and ultimately have the accounts removed from the NPL book.


When reached for comment the Marketing and Communications Manager Harry Marks said the bank, like any financial institution in the country, is exposed to economic cycles and has lately had to contend with limited liquidity (more so that it is not yet deposit taking), low interest rates; “higher than average incidence of non-performing loans” and squeezed margins.


“In its 51 years in existence, NDB has successfully circumnavigated the business terrain in which it operates, and of recent past as a self-sustaining entity,” Marks said.


According to Marks, the bank has in this regard been able to touch the lives of many Batswana by focusing on business landscapes that other Banks are not keen to finance, such as agriculture and start-ups. “To date the Bank has paid government dividends amounting to P130.2 million in the past two decades. The Bank consistently executes its mandate towards economic diversification of the country and has a proud record of development to showcase. It is our commitment to continue on the path of aggressively executing this mandate,” he said.


However indications are that the accounts owing the bank millions of pula are treated with kids’ gloves and affecting the bank negatively. Altogether the accounts total exposure for Gaborone branch amounted to 81 million as at end of October 2014, a figure which continues to increase exponentially recording a high of 93 million as at end of December last year.


Efforts to solicit a comment from National Bank Development Employees Union (NDBEU) President Gilbert Watshipi proved futile at the time of going to press.


Meanwhile the former Secretary General of NDBEU John Matlapeng, who has since been replaced by Bose Masuke, has through a communication of 12 December 2014, warned the board chairperson Mr Vincent Seitei about the effects of the uncollectable debt.


“To date, and as is the case every year, management is struggling to persuade the external auditors to endorse the annual accounts. As usual, management and staff are called upon to cook up some gymnastic explanation with regard to its bad debt provisioning methodology, and generally account for how it has factored the impact of its substantial uncollected debt. Such a situation cannot be allowed to persist as an annual ritual, year in and year out.”

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No end in sight for Nam, Botswana borderline feud

27th July 2021
Namibian-report

Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.

Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.

“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.

Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.

The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.

The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River.  They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).

His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.

The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.

Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.

37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far

Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.

“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.

It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.

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Masisi gives KBL the “middle finger”

27th July 2021
President Masisi

Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.

This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.

In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.

“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.

Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.

Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”

Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.

He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”

According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.

Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.

“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.

He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.

Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.

“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.

He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”

Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.

However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.

In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.

“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.

Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.

“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.

Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.

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Gov’t gives parallel statements on COVAX

27th July 2021
COVAX---lelatisitswe

In  an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.

The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.

“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.

According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.

“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more  money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.

Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.

“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.

“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.

COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.

Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).

On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.

Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.

President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.

“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.

On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.

In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.

Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.

Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.

As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.

This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.

The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.

As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.

“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.

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