MRI Botswana Limited has grown from strength to strength in its 22 years of existence in the country. The company recently launched a diversified offering of health services going under the brand of Primehealth, consisting of MRI Onsite, Prime Health Pharmacy, Prime Health Medical Practice, Prime Health Travel Clinic, MRI Training School, as well as a call centre, in its integrated health services portfolio.
MRI Botswana has six branches across the country; Gaborone, Palapye, Maun, Francistown, Kasane and Kanye opening soon in Letlhakane. In addition MRI Botswana is opening a Travel Medicine Clinic that will be based at the Sir Seretse Khama International.
Lesire Sebowe, marketing manager at MRI, told BusinessPost that: “As of 1st April 2015, the MRI Botswana Kasane branch opened its doors to the Kasane/Kazungula community providing Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Pharmacy and GP services will be provided as within this month. Our Kasane office has been well received by the Kasane community with a high need for healthcare services. The demand in Kasane for quality and affordable healthcare services has been high, prompting MRI Botswana to provide a fully equipped GP Practice, Pharmacy and emergency medical services. Kanye branch opened its doors this month and will provide services to Kanye and surrounding villages, Moshupa, the Kanye – Jwaneng highway and the Kanye – Lobatse back route.”
Sebowe said that the rest of the country will follow Gaborone and Kasane with the roll out of Primehealth as MRI executes its expansion strategy.
MRI boasts qualified full time staff complement of 147 consisting of 8 doctors, 34 paramedics, 14 nurses, 5 pharmacists and 5 Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD), exclusive of support staff.
MRI Medical Rescue is able to provide medical transfers to those in need of high level care anywhere in the world with the Medical Rescue Air ambulance which is configured to ICU standards. Justification for transfer out of the country requires appropriate referral by a doctor as well assurance that the member has sufficient funds to pay their hospital bills outside the country. Our 24-hour Contact Centre coordinates these transfers ensuring that the bed to bed transfer is smoothly carried out.
MRI has transported clients across the globe. International patients have been repatriated to as far afield as USA, India, Australia, China, New Zealand and the UK.
MRIB delisted from the Botswana Stock Exchange in 2008 when it was taken over by BOMAID and Venture Partners Botswana when its then shareholders divested their interests in the Company. VPB was then, administering the CEDA Venture Capital Fund set up by the Government of Botswana to assist citizens to establish business in Botswana. In 2012, VPB exited the partnership and its shares and those of BOMAID were acquired by Southview. Currently, the company is owned 93 percent by Southview, 4 percent MVA Fund, and 3 percent by over 200 other shareholders.
Twenty two years of existence have brought the company to the point where it has distinguished itself in the field of Pre Hospital Emergency Medical care, call centre business with state of the art technological infrastructure, Emergency Medical Training Academy and MRI-ON-SITE occupational health, emergency and other clinical services in far flung places such as Gaghoo Mine in the CKGR, Majwe Mine in Jwaneng, African Copper Thakadu and Mowana in Dukwi, and previously in DML Bosetu Mine.
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”