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Botswana inflation subdued through 2015 – analysts


Botswana inflation will remain subdued through 2015 allowing policy makers to keep interest rates at present levels or lower for an extended period rate, economic analysts have said.


Inflation is expected to remain within the 3-6% range throughout 2015 slowing down to 3,5% by midyear thus falling within the Bank of Botswana target range.

Head of Research, Garry Juma at Motswedi Securities, a local brokerage firm said Inflationary pressure next year will likely be in check, while the Bank Rate is expected to remain at 7,5%. 

Motswedi’s dovish inflation forecast view is supported by the stable fuel prices owing to the remarkably declining oil prices in the international market recently. 



“The major causes of inflation on the local economy have largely been, rising food and oil prices on the international market, of which we don’t have much control,” said Juma

“Against this background, we expect food prices, which have largely been stable on the international market to remain generally unchanged going into 2015. Oil prices are declining and are expected to decline further,” he added.



Juma said the continued appreciation of the Pula against the Rand will also help moderate imported inflation. The Pula has firmed by 1.2 percent against the Rand.



Motswedi forecast headline inflation will stand at 3.8 and rise to 4.4 percent still within the BoB target bands of 3-6 percent.



The 3-6% Inflation forecasts took into account movements in administered prices which are expected to remain benign in the near term. The higher inflation forecast could be attributed to drought in Botswana and across the region.

Nevertheless Juma was quick to say, any large increase in administered prices on the local economy such as electricity, water and also the alcohol levy might exert some inflationary pressures on the economy.


Inflation in 2014 fell within the BoB target range of 3-6%. Despite rise in fuel, commodities and energy prices, inflation remained under check. For December 2014, inflation is expected to average at 4.4%.


Research Manager with Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) Botswana Moathlodi Sebabelo cemented Juma’s view saying inflation in 2015 will average between 4-5%.


“Europe is already hovering right on the edge of deflation, and a further drop in oil prices would shove the eurozone right over the edge. Our major import is oil and the slumping oil prices are a good indicator that inflation remains subdued as well as the deflation in Europe,” said Sebabelo.


By end of last week, crude oil’s benchmark North Sea Brent had fallen below $70 a barrel, its lowest close since May 2010, while U.S. crude fell to a low of $65.84 a barrel. Prices have slumped after OPEC’s November 27 decision not to crimp production, with prices diving by nearly 40 percent over the past five months.


He added that even if the government increases the alcohol levy, the increase won’t put much pressure on the inflation. “If anything the inflation will be pushed at 0.2% rate,” said Sebabelo.


He expects the bank rate to be kept at low rates considering that banks are already facing a liquidity problem. “Definitely there won’t be any hike of bank rate already Bank of Botswana (BoB) is very wary that its exerting pressure on households. If anything there might be a decrease” said Sebabelo.


The analysts anticipate an accommodative monetary policy stance to support the domestic economic recovery.


 Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has encouraged Botswana to continuously look for opportunities to further strengthen the operational aspects of the exchange rate framework and deepen the money and foreign currency markets.


Business Monitor International forecast real GDP growth to be at 4.5% in 2015, a downwards revision from its previous forecast of 5.2%. Falling diamond exports, diminishing base effects and ongoing power issues are expected to constrain real GDP growth.

BMI forecasts Botswana monetary policy to remain accommodative through in 2015. The think tank expects inflation to remain contained in 2015 owing to the pula's appreciation against the rand and slowing domestic economic growth.



 

“We predict that Botswana's current account surplus will narrow from7.0% in 2014 to 5.9% in 2015. Having declined in 2014 we forecast that both goods imports and exports will return to growth in 2015,” says BMI.



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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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