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Trade between Botswana and Asia grows

Statistics Botswana (SB) has revealed that trade between Botswana and the Asian countries experienced an increase during the October 2014 trading period.

The monthly Merchandise Digest for the September – October 2014 trading period reveal that total exports for October 2014 were valued at P6, 494.3 million, with 39.4 percent (P2, 559.9 million) destined to Asia. India received most of the exports destined to Asia at the value of P1, 087.0 million, representing 16.7 percent of total exports.

While the imports from Asia to Botswana were valued at P267.4 million, representing 4.0 percent of total imports. China contributed 1.2 percent (P77.6 million) to total imports recorded during October 2014.

The digest states that in October 2014 total exports were valued at P6, 494.3 million, an increase of 82.5 percent (P2, 936.3 million) from the September 2014 revised value of P3, 557.9 million. A comparison of October 2014 total exports value to that of October 2013 (P6, 115.4 million) shows an increase of 6.2 percent (P378.9 million).

According to the digest total exports for October 2014 were valued at P6, 494.3 million, with 81.6 percent (P5, 299.9 million) attributed to exports of Diamonds including Diamonds exported from the aggregation process.

Copper Nickel contributed 8.2 percent (P531.7 million) while Machinery & Electrical Equipment; and Meat & Meat Products contributed 3.1 percent (P202.2 million) and 1.9 percent (P123.3 million) respectively. Machinery & Electrical Equipment consists mainly of re-export of goods that were initially imported.

The monthly digest shows that October 2014 total imports were valued at P6, 701.3 million, showing an increase of 7.1 percent (P444.2 million) from the revised September 2014 value of P6, 257.2 million. When annualizing total import figures, October 2014 imports value decreased by 1.8 percent (P124.2 million) from the October 2013 value of P6, 825.5 million.

The digest has revealed Botswana’s major imports were from South Africa valued at P4, 059.2 million constituting 60.6 percent of the total exports and 8.0 percent (P538.9 million) from Namibia. These two were followed by the European Union which supplied imports valued at P913.0 million, representing 13.6 percent of total imports during October 2014.

Other sources of imports are Belgium and Germany which contributed 10.3 percent (P693.0 million) and 1.4 percent (P92.0 million) respectively, of total imports during the same period.

Canada and the United States of America (USA) were valued at P699.3 million and P135.2 million in October 2014, which is 10.4 percent and 2.0 percent respectively of total imports during the month. Israel and Singapore followed with contributions of 6.9 percent (P446.2 million) and 6.8 percent (P443.3 million) respectively of total exports during the month under review.

Exports destined to the EU were valued at P2,163.7 million, representing 33.3 percent of total exports during the period under review. Belgium received most exports destined to EU, having received 30.0 percent (P1, 949.0 million) of total exports during 2014 October. This was followed by Finland and the United Kingdom (UK) with 1.6 percent (P105.4 million) and 1.2 percent (P77.2 million) respectively, of total exports during the same month.

South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe received 9.7 percent (P627.0 million), 3.3 percent (P216.7 million) and 1.5 percent (P95.8 million) respectively, of total exports during the month under review.

Exports to Norway were valued at P278.7 million, representing 4.3 percent of total exports (P6, 494.3 million) during October 2014, while Switzerland and the United States of America (USA) received 3.7 percent (P238.3 million) and 3.0 percent (P197.1 million) respectively, of total exports during the same month.

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

21st September 2020

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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