The Minister of Agriculture, Christian De Graaf has revealed that efforts to amend the BMC Act to end its monopoly will resume as soon as BMC returns to profitability.
Previous efforts in 2012 to amend the BMC Act to de-monopolise the country’s beef export agency suffered a minor setback after Parliament deferred the bill citing some reservations.
“I intend to table the amendment bill to parliament as soon as BMC returns to profitability, last time some legislators were hostile towards ending BMC’ monopoly this time around I however expect them to support me,” said De Graaf.
The loss making BMC bounced back to profitability, recording P26 million after tax profits for the year ended 31 December 2013. BMC expects to reach a turnover of about P1.6 billion with profits reaching P46 million in the year ended December 2014.
De Graaf castigated reports that he was conniving with an SA top business man to buy BMC in order to make commercial farmers richer at the expense of small farmers.
“By making amendment calls I didn’t have any intentions to kill small farmers, in fact it is my desire to see small scale farmers be protected,” said De Graaf.
He also set the record straight saying he had no intentions of running BMC from his office instead there must be a regulator that will be conducting negotiations as well as issuing out permits.
Among sections targeted for amendment is section 21, which gives the minister powers to issue permits to any person who wish to export cattle. Sub-section 1 says that, “No person shall export cattle or edible products from cattle from Botswana unless he poses a permit in writing to do so, issued by the Minister,” while the next part notes that the commission (BMC) may slaughter cattle on behalf of any person for the purposes of exporting from Botswana. But for some farmers this Bill is what the doctor ordered.
“I don’t harbor any evil objectives of seeing BMC collapse, it must continue to play its vital role of supporting small farmers, once BMC returns to profitability that will be the right time to amend the act.
De Graaff argued that farmers have no reason to fear for anything because the abattoir will continue to buy from them through the Direct Purchase Scheme. “We are not going to bring anyone to take over the BMC, we will not allow the BMC to collapse,” he said. The minister said the request to amend the BMC Act came from the farmers not from government adding that BMC must continue even after amendment.
Regarding BMC market diversification, De Graaf said BMC continues to explore other niche markets outside Europe, meanwhile BMC is selling to lucrative markets such as Norway, UK and Continental Europe, BMC. Norway is paying 10-20% more than the EU market, but Botswana is sharing the quota with Namibia.
He added that it is particularly important to diversify away from traditional market South Africa.
“In 2015 BMC will increase its exports to the large Hong Kong market and increase volumes of beef to the Middle East. Increasing volumes for the Maun abattoir will also find their way into the Mozambique and east Africa markets”
“We remain confident that the Angolan market will open up for Maun products and that transit permission from Namibia will be given. Live cattle exports to Zimbabwe will be pursued,” said De Graaf.
Zimbabwe however was constrained by financial challenges and only imported 4,071 cattle from January to November 2014. By end of November 2014 BMC has already slaughtered a total of 136 376 cattle with Lobatse leading with 92 573 followed by Francistown at 27 489 and Maun 16 314.
Regarding the ISPPAD programme, De Graaf said the results of the ISPAD programe have been exceptional crop production for 2013/14 currently stands at more than 220 metric tons of which more than 125 thousand mt is cereals as compared to a total production of 64,980 mt and 33,755 mt of cereals for 2012/13.
De Graaf added that horticulture has great potential for growth. Meanwhile government has put up restrictions on the horticulture imports is part of its strategy to grow the industry by facilitating farmers to access the market. High value crops such as potatoes and tomatoes which were previously imported in huge quantities, currently import restrictions have been put in place.
“The restrictions are short-lived hence farmers must produce goods of good quality so that they can be competitive, the conclusion of the SADC EPA’S presents access for other agriculture products to the European union market in addition to beef which we have been long exporting,” he said.
In today’s digital age, banking is no longer just about visiting a branch during business hours. It’s about putting you, the customer, in the driver’s seat of your financial journey. But what exactly is self-service banking, and how do you stand to benefit from it as a customer?
Self-service banking is all about giving you the power to manage your finances on your terms. Whether you want to check your account balance at midnight, transfer money while on vacation, or deposit cash without waiting in line, self-service banking makes it possible. It’s like having a virtual branch at your fingertips, ready to assist you 24/7.
This shift towards self-service banking was catalyzed by various factors but it became easily accessible and accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic. People of all ages found themselves turning to digital channels out of necessity, and they discovered the freedom and flexibility it offers.
Anyone with a bank account and access to the internet or a smartphone can now bank anywhere and anytime. Whether you’re a tech-savvy millennial or someone who’s less comfortable with technology, you as the customer have the opportunity to manage your finances independently through online banking portal or downloading your bank’s mobile app. These platforms are designed to be user-friendly, with features like biometric authentication to ensure your transactions are secure.
Speaking of security, you might wonder how safe self-service banking really is. Banks invest heavily in encryption and other security measures to protect your information. In addition to that, features like real-time fraud detection and AI-powered risk management add an extra layer of protection.
Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the catch? Does self-service banking come with a cost?” The good news is that for the most part, it’s free. Banks offer these digital services as part of their commitment to customer satisfaction. However, some transactions, like wire transfers or expedited bill payments, may incur a small service fee.
At Bank Gaborone, our electronic channels offer a plethora of services around the clock to cater to your banking requirements. This includes our Mobile App, which doesn’t require data access for Orange and Mascom users. We also have e-Pula Internet Banking portal, available at https://www.bankgaborone.co.bw as well as Tobetsa Mobile Banking which is accessible via *187*247#. Our ATMs also offer the flexibility of allowing you to deposit, withdraw cash, and more.
With self-service banking, you have the reins of your financial affairs, accessible from the comfort of your home, workplace, or while you’re on the move. So why wait? Take control of your finances today with self-service banking.
Duduetsang Chappelle-Molloy is Head: Marketing and Corporate Communication Services
Botswana has recently recorded a significant trade deficit of over P6 billion. This trade deficit, which occurred in November 2023, follows another deficit of P4.7 billion recorded in October of the same year. These figures, released by Statistics Botswana, highlight a decline in export revenues as the main cause of the trade deficit.
In November 2023, Botswana’s total export revenues amounted to P2.9 billion, a decrease of 24.3 percent from the previous month. Diamonds, a major contributor to Botswana’s exports, experienced a significant decline of 44.1 percent during this period. This decline in diamond exports played a significant role in the overall decrease in export revenues. However, diamonds still remained the leading export commodity group, contributing 44.2 percent to export revenues. Copper and Machinery & Electrical Equipment followed, contributing 25.8 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.
Asia emerged as the leading export market for Botswana, receiving exports worth P1.18 billion in November 2023. The United Arab Emirates, China, and Hong Kong were the top destinations within Asia, receiving 18.6 percent, 14.2 percent, and 3.8 percent of total exports, respectively. Diamonds and Copper were the major commodity groups exported to Asia.
The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) received Botswana’s exports worth P685.7 million, with South Africa being the main recipient within SACU. The European Union (EU) received exports worth P463.2 million, primarily through Belgium. Australia received exports worth P290 million, while the United States received exports valued at P69.6 million, mostly composed of diamonds.
On the import side, Botswana imported goods worth P9.5 billion in November 2023, representing an increase of 11.2 percent from the previous month. The increase in imports was mainly driven by a rise in Diamonds and Chemicals & Rubber Products imports. Diamonds contributed 23.3 percent to total imports, followed by Fuel and Food, Beverages & Tobacco at 19.4 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively.
The SACU region was the top supplier of imports to Botswana, accounting for 77.7 percent of total imports. South Africa contributed the largest share at 57.2 percent, followed by Namibia at 20.0 percent. Imports from Asia accounted for 9.8 percent of total imports, with Diamonds, Machinery & Electrical Equipment, and Chemicals & Rubber Products being the major commodity groups imported. The EU supplied Botswana with imports worth 3.2 percent of total imports, primarily in the form of Machinery & Electrical Equipment, Diamonds, and Chemicals & Rubber Products.
Botswana’s recent trade deficit of over P6 billion highlights a decline in export revenues, particularly in the diamond sector. While Asia remains the leading export market for Botswana, the country heavily relies on imports from the SACU region, particularly South Africa. Addressing the trade deficit will require diversification of export markets and sectors, as well as efforts to promote domestic industries and reduce reliance on imports.
The business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024, according to a recent survey conducted by the Bank of Botswana (BoB). The survey collected information from businesses in various sectors, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, and finance, among others. The results of the survey indicate that businesses expect trading conditions to improve in the first quarter of 2024 and remain favorable throughout the year.
The researchers found that firms anticipate improvements in investment, profitability, and goods and services exported in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the previous quarter. These expectations, combined with anticipated growth in all sectors except construction and real estate, contribute to the overall confidence in business conditions. Furthermore, businesses expect further improvements in the first quarter of 2024 and throughout the entire year.
Confidence among domestic market-oriented firms may decline slightly in the first quarter of 2024, but overall optimism is expected to improve throughout the year, consistent with the anticipated domestic economic recovery. Firms in sectors such as mining, retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and finance are driving this confidence. Export-oriented firms also show increased optimism in the first quarter of 2024 and for the entire year.
All sectors, except agriculture, which remains neutral, are optimistic about the first quarter of 2024 and the year ending in December 2024. This optimism is likely supported by government interventions to support economic activity, including the two-year Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP) and reforms aimed at improving the business environment. The anticipated improvement in profitability, goods and services exported, and business investment further contributes to the positive outlook.
Firms expect lending rates and borrowing volumes to increase in the 12-month period ending in December 2024. This increase in borrowing is consistent with the expected rise in investment, inventories, and goods and services exported. Firms anticipate that domestic economic performance will improve during this period. Domestic-oriented firms perceive access to credit from commercial banks in Botswana to be relaxed, while export-oriented firms prefer to borrow from South Africa.
During the fourth quarter of 2023, firms faced high cost pressures due to increased input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport, resulting from supply constraints related to conflicts in Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas. According to the survey report, the firms noted that cost pressures during the fourth quarter of 2023 were high, mainly attributable to increase in some input costs, such as materials, utilities, and transport arising from supply constraints related to the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas wars. â€śHowever, firmsâ€™ expectations about domestic inflation decreased, compared to the previous survey, and have remained within the Bankâ€™s 3 â€“ 6 percent objective range, averaging 5.4 percent for 2023 and 5.4 percent for 2024. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is good for maintenance of price stability,â€ť reads the survey report in part.
However, firms’ expectations about domestic inflation decreased compared to the previous survey, and inflation expectations remained within the Bank’s objective range of 3-6 percent. This suggests that inflation expectations are well anchored, which is beneficial for maintaining price stability.
In terms of challenges, most firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, manufacturing, construction, and finance sectors considered the exchange rate of the Pula to be unfavorable to their business operations. This is mainly because these firms import raw materials from South Africa and would prefer a stronger Pula against the South African rand. Additionally, firms in the retail, accommodation, transport, and mining sectors cited other challenges, including supply constraints from conflicts in Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas, as well as new citizen economic empowerment policies that some firms considered unfavorable to foreign direct investment.
On the positive side, firms highlighted factors such as adequate water and electricity supply, a favorable political climate, an effective regulatory framework, the availability of skilled labor, and domestic and international demand as supportive to doing business in Botswana during the fourth quarter of 2023.
Overall, the business sector in Botswana is optimistic about the year 2024. The anticipated improvements in trading conditions, supported by government interventions and reforms, are expected to drive growth and profitability in various sectors. While challenges exist, businesses remain confident in the potential for economic recovery and expansion.