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Household debt declines – BoB

The Governor of the Bank of Botswana Linah Mohohlo

The rate of growth in Botswana household debt has declined after a weak growth in loanable funds which further suppressed credit growth through tighter lending conditions, the Bank of Botswana has revealed.


The annual growth in credit to the household decelerated from 24.2 percent in 2013 to 9.4 percent in 2014.


Presenting the Monetary Policy Statement, the Governor of the Bank of Botswana Linah Mohohlo said the slow down represents normalization in line with the slower growth in incomes.


The slowdown in household debt reflected the significant decline in the yearly increase in mortgages from 40.1 percent to 18.4 percent and in personal loans from 19.6 percent to 5.3 percent.


Mohohlo highlighted that the softening mortgage credit against the background of moderation in the property market reduces potential risks in this area. “The current indicators of low and stable default ratios for household borrowing reflect generally stable financial system,” she said.


The ratio of non- performing loans to total credit was 2.9% as at 31st December 2014 in the context of a well-capitalised banking system and sufficient provisioning by banks
Household loans continue to dominate commercial bank credit at 56% of all loans.


Mohohlo noted that while there may be concerns about productivity of such lending, the risk to financial stability is moderated by the extent to which such credit is diversified.


Moreover, the deposits at commercial banks grew by 6.1% in December 2014 compared to 2.7 percent in 2013.


In contrast there was significant increase in annual credit expansion to businesses from 4.6 percent in 2013 to 19.1 percent in 2014. The acceleration in business credit growth was mainly driven by the manufacturing and trade, tourism and hotel sectors, while other sectors of the economy had a lower impact.


Mohohlo said the economy is forecast to grow by 4.9 percent this year, lower than the revised estimate of 5.2 percent for 2014.


Non-mining output growth in Botswana was expected to be above trend in the medium-term.


"The results of business expectations survey conducted by the bank show some modest expectations of the improvement in economic prospects in 2015, with export-oriented business more confident than domestic-oriented business," Mohohlo said.
The country's power and water problems are expected to dampen economic activity in future. The country faces power supply challenges against the backdrop of the non-completion of the Morupule B power station.


Turning to inflation, the Mohohlo said it was expected to remain within the three to six percent range in the medium-term.


“The formulation and implementation of monetary policy will focus on entrenching expectations of low and sustainable inflation in the medium-term, through timely responses to price changes, while ensuring that credit and other market developments are consistent with lasting financial stability,” said the Governor.

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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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