The opening of Parliamentary business for 2015, on Monday next week will as is customary start with the presentation of the budget for the 2015/16 financial year by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning.
Minister Kenneth Matambo is expected to deliver a budget that is geared towards the developmental challenges that the country faces as well as a recurrent budget in the same 70:30 ratio.
In the face of an economy that is still recovering after the economic recession of 2008, it has been said that “things are better.” But the country is yet to reach pre-recession growth levels of over 7 percent and the foreign reserves have not gone back to the pre recession levels.
This week, Grace Tabengwa, a senior researcher at Government policy advisor, Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) gave her expectations of the budget, from a policy perspective.
Recurrent Budget Allocation of P33.32 billion, an increase of P2.79 billion or 9.1 percent increase over the 2013/14 budget. Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) is expected to get the lion share of the recurrent budget which might stand at P9.26 billion or 27.8 percent of the Ministerial recurrent budget.
BusinessPost was made to understand that budget surpluses are important in the macroeconomic level as it determines credit ratings among other things. “The fundamentals do not allow reserves to run out, we need to have a buffer,” said Tabengwa.
Tabengwa also alluded to a need to step up monitoring and evaluation of budget goals, saying efforts are being done and it’s a process.
The BIDPA researcher estimates that the Development Budget Allocation and Outlined Project Activities will stand at P12.24 billion, a marginal increase of 0.99 percent over the 2013/14 revised budget of P12.12 billion.
Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) is expected to get the largest share of the development budget with the expected figure of P3.55 billion or 29.0 percent. Major projects constituting 97.4 percent of the budget are: Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) Finances at P2.05 billion to cover BPC operational and maintenance cost at P1.5 billion; North-West Power Transmission line at P200 million, Emergency power supply at P140 million; Rakola substation at P100 million, Morupule A and B at P60 million, ZIZABONA at P50 million; North-South Water Carrier II from Dikgatlhong Dam to Palapye, as well as from Palapye to Gaborone at P600 million; completion of Dikgatlhong and Thune Dams at P200 million and P100 million, respectively; emergency water projects at various locations at P200 million; Kanye-Molepolole connection to North South Water Carrier at P100 million; construction of sewerage systems for Kanye and Molepolole at P80 million as well as the Oil Storage project amounting to P50 million.
Key for Prioritization Process Consistency with Key prevailing economic Challenges; Synergies with National Development Plan 10 and 11 long term development objectives; More work should be on specific programmes, projects, strategies to support the; realisation of objectives; Result Oriented Budget Outcomes will benefit from; Target Specific relevant well defined delivered initiatives to realize growth and development, sustainability.
The existing economic challenges that the country still faces, are: Prevailing poverty dynamics; High Unemployment, youth; Power, Water, Infrastructure Challenges; Limited Diversification; Private Sector Development; Human Capital Development, quality and adequacy of Skills; Competitiveness, Promoting Investment and Business Environment; Limited Diversification and Revenues; Botswana Still on Recovery Path, fiscal reforms, tight Fiscal stance an binding constraints; Implementation of the NDP 10 – its conclusion and finally, it is a critical time for implementing Vision 2016 objectives
Total expenditure and net lending is projected at P51.46 billion in 2015/16 from the estimated P49.3 billion recorded in 2014/15. Of the total, recurrent expenditure is expected to increase slightly to P38.995 billion, once again accounted for by the increase in personal emoluments; while development expenditure is estimated to reach P12.6 billion; Despite the projected budget surplus in 2015/16, the net financial assets position remains negative, as a result of accumulated budget deficits from the financial crisis period. The share of the proposed budget for the 2015/16 financial year to GDP stands at 31.4 percent, which is close to the limit of 30 percent that Government committed to achieve in NDP 10.
The 2015/16 budget unfolds in a low growth environment with global risks for slow recovery in major economies-USA as well as a global growth forecast revised downward lately with Botswana’s growth trajectory being low at about 5 percent.
There are expectations that strategies for boosting growth: such as Economic Diversification Drive (EDD), Private Sector Growth, Investment and business reforms to continue being supported across sectors and policy reforms. Budget resources should be focused on attaining sustainable growth and spearhead the growth momentum under a fiscal binding constraint. Places Emphasis on diversification of growth and revenue sources and aims to alternative sources of growth, support business environment, to stimulate private sector growth; Addressing constraints to Foreign Direct Investment and competitiveness through a focus on advancing human capital development. The budget is also expected to provide for requisite infrastructure and its continued maintenance and a total factor productivity and supportive environment for non-mining sector growth.
Newly established wholly indigenous citizen owned retail chain Payless Retail (PTY) Ltd is set to partake in the first session of Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)’s Tshipidi Mentorship Program (TMP) on Monday June 29th.
The TMP aims to train and capacitate SMEs so they can operate as corporates and eventually list on the local bourse. According to local bourse, BSE, the program aims to provide practical training to potential issuers through a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
Payless Retail is a newly established supermarket chain whose mission is to become a convenient one-stop shopping destination as it is one of the Botswana oldest retailing brands. It started off as Corner Supermarket in January 1976, and to date boasts of nine stores in, among others, Gaborone, Mochudi, Molepolole and Tlokweng. Payless was recently acquired by Ellis Retail Group, which is led by businessman Elliot Moshoke.
The takeover catapulted Ellis Retail to the envious position of being the first wholly indigenous owned major retail chain. “We jumped at this opportunity because it gave us a chance to prove to Batswana that the retail business is open and lucrative.”
The objective is to create a proudly Botswana retail chain that fully supports our national Vision, economic development and citizen economic empowerment ambitions,” Moshoke told BusinessPost.
He further emphasized that Batswana are capable and able to run large scale businesses hence they need to accept invite foreign investors who will come in to support us not take the business. “Our win as Payless in the Fast Moving Consumer goods (FMCG) industry is a win for Batswana. We need their support in this difficult and challenging journey.
As you are aware, Payless is the only retail chain in the hands of Batswana ba Sekei. We need to take advantage of this to generate employment and create small businesses in retail and Agri businesses,” he explained.
The retailer has also partnered with Botswana Investment & Trade Center (BITC) on their #PushaBW campaign with a view to initiating earnest engagement with local producers to iron out bottlenecks and ensure seamless trading.
“Local producers have to be part of the phenomenal growth of the Payless brand. This will in turn facilitate employment creation and economic growth. We did this because we have the utmost respect for local manufacturers and producers,” he mentioned.
Payless is currently restocking all of its stores; a development that Moshoke says is testament to the retailer’s commitment to growing the brand and ensuring continuity of business. He further revealed that renowned retail suppliers like PST and CA Sales have reignited their trust in Payless, opening their doors for Payless as they have faith in the retailer’s new owners.
The takeover has reportedly saved more than 200 jobs and gave a new lease of life to the previously fledging Payless brand. According to a press release from the management team, the Payless work forces are also extremely excited about what the future holds. The TMP is a comprehensive and interactive program that covers the key themes necessary to position a company to list on the BSE.
The program is administered by experts within the listing ecosystem and seeks to bring the potential issuers closer to the listings advisers, investors and leaders of already listed companies. “As a strategic initiative, the BSE decided to set up this mentorship program in a bid to assist SMEs to strategize, corporatize and acclimatize in order to list to access equity finance and expand operations,” said the BSE.
The TMP will avail to SMEs practical insights, knowledge and feedback from institutional investors, increased awareness of the BSE listing requirements as well as an intimate network of advisors and CEOs of listed companies. After training, Payless will graduate with improve governance structures and better knowledge of articulating its business strategy. The retailer will also gain increased visibility through BSE marketing platforms.
Despite Covid-19 interrupting trade worldwide, exporting companies in Botswana which benefited from the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) services realised P2.96 billion in export earnings during the period from April 2020 to March 2021.
In the preceding financial year, the sale of locally manufactured products in foreign markets had registered export revenue of P2, 427 billion against a target of P3, 211 billion BITC, which celebrates 10 years since establishment, continues to carry out several initiatives targeted towards expanding the Botswana export base in line with Botswana’s desire to be an export led economy, underpinned by a robust export promotion programme in line with the National Export Strategy.
The main products exported were swamp cruiser boats, pvc tanks and pvc pipes, ignition wiring sets, semi-precious stones, veterinary medicines, hair braids, coal, textiles (towels and t-shirts) and automobile batteries. These goods were destined mainly for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Austria, Germany, and Namibia.
With Covid-19 still a problem, BITC continues to roll out targeted virtual trade promotion missions across the SADC region with a view to seeking long-lasting market opportunities for locally manufactured products.
Recently, the Centre facilitated participation for Botswana companies at the Eastern Cape Development Council (ECDC) Virtual Export Symposium, the Botswana-Zimbabwe Virtual Trade Mission, the Botswana-Zambia Virtual Trade Mission, Botswana-South Africa Virtual Buyer/Seller Mission as well as the Botswana-Namibia Virtual Trade Mission.
BITC has introduced an e-Exporting programme aimed at assisting Botswana exporters to conduct business on several recommended e-commerce platforms. Due to the advent of COVID-19, BITC is currently promoting e-trade among companies through the establishment of e-commerce platforms and is assisting local companies to embrace digitisation by adopting e-commerce platforms to reach export markets as well as assisting local e-commerce platform developers to scale up their online marketplaces.
During the 2019/2020 financial year, BITC embarked on several initiatives targeted at growing exports in the country; facilitation of participation of local companies in international trade platforms in order to enhance export sales of local products and services into external markets.
BITC also helped in capacity development of local companies to compete in global markets and the nurturing of export awareness and culture among local manufacturers in order to enhance their skills and knowledge of export processes; and in development and implementation of trade facilitation tools that look to improve the overall ease of doing business in Botswana.
As part of building export capacity in 2019/20, six (6) companies were selected to initiate a process to be Organic and Fair Trade Certified. These companies are; Blue Pride (Pty) Ltd, Motlopi Beverages, Moringa Technology Industries (Pty) Ltd, Sleek Foods, Maungo Craft and Divine Morula.
In 2019 seven companies which were enrolled in the Botswana Exporter Development Programme were capacitated with attaining BOBS ISO 9001: 2015 certification. Three (3) companies successfully attained BOBS ISO 9001:2015 certification. These were Lithoflex (Pty) Ltd, General Packaging Industries and Power Engineering.
BITC’s annual flagship exhibition, Global Expo Botswana (GEB) to create opportunities for trade and strategic synergies between local and international companies. The Global Expo Botswana) is a premier business to business exposition that attracts FDI, expansion of domestic investment, promotion of exports of locally produced goods and services and promotion of trade between Botswana and other countries.
The portal also provides information on; measures, legal documents, and forms and procedures needed by Botswana companies that intend on doing business abroad. BITC continues to assist both potential and existing local manufacturing and service entities to realise their export ambitions. This assistance is pursued through the ambit of the Botswana Exporter Development Programme (BEDP) and the Trade Promotion Programme.
BEDP was revised in 2020 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a vision to developing a diversified export-based economy. The programme focuses mostly on capacitating companies to reach export readiness status.
Prices for goods and services in this country continue to increase, with the latest figures from Statistics Botswana showing that in May 2022, inflation rate rose to 11.9 percent from 9.6 percent recorded in April 2022.
According to Statistics Botswana update released this week, the largest upward contributions to the annual inflation rate in May 2022 came from increase in the cost of transport (7.2 percent), housing, water, electricity, gas & other Fuels (1.4 percent), food & non-alcoholic beverages (1.1 percent) and miscellaneous goods & services (0.8 percent).
With regard to regional inflation rates between April and May 2022, the Rural Villages inflation rate went up by 2.5 percentage points, from 9.6 percent in April to 12.1 percent in May 2022, according to the government owned statistics entity.
In the monthly update the entity stated that the Urban Villages inflation rate stood at 11.8 percent in May 2022, a rise of 2.4 percentage points from the April rate of 9.4 percent, whereas the Cities & Towns inflation rate recorded an increase of 1.9 percentage points, from 9.9 percent in April to 11.8 percent in May.
Commenting on the national Consumer Price Index, the entity stated that it went up by 2.6 percent, from 120.1 in April to 123.2 in May 2022. Statisticians from the entity noted that the transport group index registered an increase of 7.3 percent, from 134.5 in April to 144.2 in May, mainly due to the rise in retail pump prices for petrol and diesel by P1.54 and P2.74 per litre respectively, which effected on the 13th of May 2022.
The food & non-alcoholic beverages group index rose by 2.6 percent, from 118.6 in April 2022 to 121.6 in May 2022 and this came as a result of increase in prices of oils & fats, vegetables, bread & cereal, mineral waters, soft drinks, fruits & vegetables juices, fish (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen) and meat (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen), according to the Statisticians.
The Statisticians said the furnishing, household equipment & routine maintenance group index rose by 1.0 percent, from 111.6 in April 2022 to 112.7 in May 2022 and this was attributed to a general increase in prices of household appliances, glassware, tableware & household utensils and goods & services for household maintenance.
The prices for clothing & footwear group index moved from 109.4 to 110.4, registering a rise of 0.9 percent during the period under review. Bank of Botswana has projected higher inflation in the short term, associated with the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices and added that the possible increase in public service salaries could add also upward pressure to inflation in this country.