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Botswana becomes Japan’s second-hand car scrap heap

Statistics Botswana, a parastatal organisation charged with responsibilities of collecting and disseminating all official figures in the country, has presented Transport and Infrastructure Statistics Brief for Quarter 3, 2019.

The Brief covers statistics relating to air transport, motor vehicle registrations, railway transport and water transport. The motor vehicle registration deals with licensing of motor vehicles with respect to those registered for the first time and the renewal of pre-existing ones. First registrations are done at the Department of Road Transport and Safety DRTS only, while renewals are done at DRTS offices, Post Offices country wide and some stores like Sefalana.

According to these statistics, a total of 18 000 vehicles were registered for the first time during the quarter under review, Q3 2019. Out of this total 77.1 percent were passenger cars. Vans made up 7.4 percent of the total while motor cycles constituted only 0.3 percent of the total first registrations. First registrations increased by 4.9 percent compared to the previous quarter, Q2 2019. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, Q3 2018, vehicles registered for the first time increased by 27.7 percent.

For the past five years first registrations have been increasing at a decreasing rate; in 2015 they increased by 11.2. Most of the first registrations in Q3 2019 were used vehicles, constituting 84.9 percent of total first registrations. In this brief, it was shared that most of the first registrations in Q3 2019 were used vehicles, constituting 84.9 percent of total first registrations. Brand new and rebuilt vehicles accounted for 15.0 percent and 0.1 percent of the total respectively.

Furthermore, the brief indicated that the highest number of first registered vehicles were imported from Japan which made up 77.7 percent of the total first registrations. Out of these, 99.6 percent were used vehicles and only 0.4 percent were new. The neighbouring South Africa followed Japan with 15.0 percent of total imported vehicles, out of which 82.8 percent were new. Singapore was the third in line of countries from which Botswana imports vehicles, it accounted for 1.7 percent of total first registrations.

Most of the new vehicles were imported from South Africa which accounted for 82.5 percent of total brand new vehicles. Vehicles bought in Botswana followed with 7.4 percent. Brand new vehicles from Pakistan and Japan accounted for 2.8 and 2.0 percent respectively.
Rebuilt vehicles originated from only three countries namely; Botswana (41.7 percent), Japan (50.0 percent) and South Africa (8.3 percent).

In Q3 2019, Gaborone accounted for a high number of first registrations with 64.8 percent of the total first registrations, the brief noted. This was an increase of 2.3 percent compared to vehicles registered for the first time in Q2 2019. The country’s second city, Francistown followed with 9.3 percent of total vehicles registered for the first time. The ailing town of Lobatse recorded 6.7 percent, while Molepolole 5.2 percent. Bobonong and Mogoditshane had the least number of first registrations with just one vehicle each.

There were no first registrations recorded at Charleshill, Hukuntsi, Middlepits, Moshupa and Rakops. In the period under review, Toyota proved to be the most popular motor vehicle make, registering 38.3 percent of total first registrations. Honda recorded the second highest number of first registrations with 12 .3 percent. Volkswagen recorded 10.9 percent while Mazda and Nissan registered 8.4 and 6.2 percent respectively.

Yamaha was the favourite motorcycle as it accounted for 70.2 percent of the total motorcycles recorded this quarter. The report stressed that all the homemade vehicles were trailers. As for registration by month, most of the registrations were done in the month of July which accounted for 34.8 percent of total first registrations. The months of August and September constituted 34.0 and 31.2 percent respectively. Compared to the same months of the previous year, Q3 2018, July increased by 41.1 percent, while August and September registrations increased by 20.2 and 23.1 percent respectively.

Compared to the same months of the previous year, renewals increased for the months of July and August by 19.1 percent and 4.6 percent respectively and declined for the month of September by 1.4 percent. Statistics Botswana further indicated that Motor Vehicle Renewals by Quarter & Body Type A total of 137,348 vehicles had their licenses renewed during this quarter.This was an increase of 6.5 percent compared to the 128,972 vehicles renewed in Q2 2019. The most renewed body type of vehicle was the passenger car accounting for 64.2 percent of total renewals.

Vans accounted for 19.1 percent of total renewals recorded under this quarter. Motor cycles had the least number of renewals with 0.3 percent. Almost all the vehicle body types recorded an increase compared to the previous quarter, except the category of “others” which registered a decrease of 4.4 percent. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, Q3 2018, renewals increased by 7.2 percent.During the quarter under review, Q3 2019, Cities and Towns accounted for the highest number of renewals with 55.4 percent of the total renewals.

Of these renewals, 67.3 percent were recorded in Gaborone. Central District accounted for the second highest number of renewals with 13.5 percent, with Palapye having the highest number of renewals for that district with 23.3 percent. The southern district constituted 3.7 percent of total renewals, with 62.0 percent of those recorded in Kanye. The other district where a high number of renewals were recorded was Kweneng, which was accounting for 9.8 percent of total renewals. The district with the least number of renewals was North East with 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, a total of 276, 762 net tons of goods were transported using rail in Q3 2019, which showed 6.0 percent decrease from goods transported in Q2 2019. Total imports decreased by 11.0 percent and total exports decreased by 18.0 percent, while local traffic increased by 45.5 percent and Botswana total declined by 7.4 percent. Botswana Origin decreased by 5.1 percent while transit traffic increased by 22.2 percent. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, goods transported by rail in Q3 2018 decreased by 31.9 percent.

Most of the goods, 36.9 percent were transported during the month of September. July and August accounted for 34.1 and 29.0 percent respectively. Compared to the same months of the previous year, all the months registered a decrease on the goods transported. July and August registered a decrease of 32.0 and 41.4 percent respectively, while September registered a decrease of 21.7 percent in goods transported. Revenue generated from rail transport amounted to P57.2 million in Q3 2019, which was a decrease of 5.3 percent compared to what was generated in the previous quarter, Q2 2019.

In comparison to the same quarter of the previous year, there was a 27.8 percent decrease. For rail transport revenue, Botswana total accounted for 93.6 percent of total revenue while transit traffic accounted for 6.4 percent. During the month of September, revenue generated constituted 38.1 percent of total revenue. The months of July and August accounted for 34.7 and 27.2 percent respectively. Compared to the same months of the previous year, revenue collected in July and August decreased by 26.2 and 41.4 percent respectively. Revenue collected in September decreased by 15.1 percent

In Q3 2019, 84,789 passengers used the passenger train, giving an increase of 48.0 percent compared to Q2 2019. The increase is attributed to the introduction of the commuter train between Lobatse and Gaborone. A high number of passengers used standard class (83.6 percent).

Sleeper class and business class accounted for 6.7 and 9.7 percent respectively. A high number of passengers travelled by rail in the month of July recording 36.5 percent. The months of August and September registered 33.4 and 30.1 percent of total rail passengers. Total passenger revenue generated during Q3 2019 was P6, 021,000.

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Botswana’s development agenda in jeopardy

21st September 2020

Stanbic Bank Botswana Quarterly Economic Review indicates that Botswana will fail to meet some of its Vision 2036 targets, particularly unemployment reduction and reaching high-income status.

The report says this is mainly due to the slow economic growth that the country is currently experiencing. This Quarterly Economic Review focuses on the 2020 Budget Speech.

The first paper reviews the entire budget with its key observations being that this budget is prepared as prescribed by the Public Finance Management Act; the priorities it seeks to address are drawn from Vision 2036 and the eleventh

The 2020 budget Speech, which was the maiden speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, and the first after the 2019 general elections, was delivered to Parliament on the 4th of February 2020.

It has been well received by the labour unions, business community, and the public at large as well as international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It mainly derived its support from key facets including, emphasis on changing the business-as-usual approach to development; outlining the transformation agenda; fiscal reform that minimizes the negative impact on economic development and human welfare, competiveness and the decision to implement the 2019 negotiated and agreed public sector.

The budget’s progress review shows that economic growth was consistent with the NDP 11 projections, with growth of around 4 percent. At this growth rate, the country would neither ascend to a high-income status nor reduce unemployment towards the Vision 2036 target of a single digit.

Simple calculations of this review confirm that the economy will need to grow the Vision 2036’s target of 6 percent over the next 16 years for per capita income to increase from around USD 8,000.00 to above USD 12,000.00 in current prices.

Further, the population is anticipated to grow by only 2 percent per annum.

For this reason, the focal areas for the forthcoming FY’s budget include measures to increase economic growth towards an average of 6 percent per annum.

Economic diversification is reportedly progressing fairly well. The report says, the share of the non-mining private sector in value added has risen to 66 percent in 2018 from to 63 percent in 2015.

The sectoral pattern of growth showed that the performance of services sector (particularly transport & communications, trade, hotels & restaurants, and finance & business services) has been the silver lining and that of mining sector was subdued whilst the utility sector disappointed.

The drive towards the service sector of the economy, especially to low-productivity activities (tourism, public administration, wholesaling and retailing) does not bode well for the country’s development aspirations.

In the previous versions of this Quarterly Review, it was noted that there is need for the rethinking of economic diversification. Since the country’s domestic market is small, it is inevitable that economic diversification not only focus on broadening the product mix, but also the composition of exports and markets.

This understanding of economic diversification has not been embraced by this year’s budget. Consequently, Botswana’s exports are still overwhelmingly diamonds, which means that the rest of economic sectors are still highly dependent on foreign-exchange earnings from diamonds. Thus, “the transformation programme requires a review of the country’s entire ecosystem”.

The budget review of the economic context also depicts that an economy with positive medium-term prospects, with growth expected to recover to 4.4 percent in 2020 from the expected growth of 36 percent in 2019 largely due to faster growth of services sectors and, thereafter, to slow-down to 4 percent in 2021.

These projected growth rates are comparable to those of the IMF staff’s baseline scenario of 4.2 percent in 2020 and 4 percent in 2021. Thus, the business-as-usual scenario produces growth rates that are still too low to achieve Botswana’s development objectives and create enough jobs to absorb the new entrants into the labour market.

Trade tensions between the two major markets for diamond exports, viz., the United States of America and China, is one of the factors that are cited as contributing to, indeed, undermining not only the domestic growth, but also the fiscal position.

Another notable downside risk to both global and domestic growth is outbreak of the coronavirus in China around January 2020. This has been declared as a global health emergency. In an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, the Chinese authorities have ordered city lockdowns and extended holidays, of course, at the expense of near- term economic growth, according to the new Stanbic Bank Botswana report.

According to Nomura Holdings Inc., fewer migrant workers returned for work than in previous years and business activities have been slow to pick up. The havoc wreaked by the virus on the world’s second largest economy is likely to spill over to the global economy. In fact, it has resulted in a glut in crude oil and, thereby placed oil markets into a contango, i.e., a market structure where near-term prices trade at a discount to future contracts.

It also presents significant risks one of Botswana’s main drivers of economic growth, diversification and foreign exchange earnings. According to the Financial Times (February 13, 2020), Chinese tourists spent $130 billion overseas in 2018. Regardless of whether the growth materializes, the projected domestic growth rate would not transform the economy to a high-income one.

Progress towards reduction of unemployment, to a target of single digit, and poverty and achieving inclusive growth has also been relatively slow, the Stanbic Bank Botswana Review says.

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OP leases Orapa House

21st September 2020
Orapa House

Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration (MOPAGPA) has through the Office of the President (OP) proposed to avail Orapa House for use by private training institutions as well as research institutions involved in the area of technology development.

For a very long time the monumental building located in the heart of the city has been a white elephant, despite government purchasing it for nearly P80 million from De Beers in 2012.

However, government has now identified a productive use for the iconic building. “The overall vision is for the building to be transformed into a hub for digital technology research and development to be carried-out by institutions, such as; Limkokwing University, BIUST, BITRI and other relevant stakeholders.”

The decision was taken as government traverse a new path of transforming the economy from a mineral led economy to a knowledge based economy through the promotion of research and innovation. However, the facility will need major maintenance to be carried-out in order to meet the requirements of the proposed change in use.

“The work will include provision of laboratories, work stations, production areas and seminar rooms; audio visual centre, high speed internet connectivity, exhibition areas and offices,” reads the proposal note for the development.

These developments will be done through the refurbishment and maintenance of the main building, workshop, and ablution block, gate house, parking area, grounds, and access control and security service.

“There will be minimal modifications to the structure as it stands. The project is estimated to cost approximately P50, 000, 000,” says the report. In this regard, it is said, the initial scope of the OP facility will be modified to accommodate the envisaged digital technology research and development hub.

With funds needed to improve the building, OP has requested that; “the 2020/21 annual budget provision for Orapa House will need to be increased by P37,500,000 from P2,500,000 to P40,000,000 to kick start the maintenance works.” Funds will be sourced from the projects that have been delayed due to Covid-19 protocols during the 2020/21 financial year.

The building has been a thorny issue for government for years. Initially, OP was expected to move there but the move never materialised. At one point it was a question of whether the Office of the President and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development were planning to override a decision by Parliament which rejected the proposal to buy Orapa House under the belief that government may be buying its own property. The building was to be bought at a negotiated cost of P79 million.

Again in 2012, Government had wanted to buy Orapa House for a negotiated P79m but the Finance and Estimates Committee of Parliament had rejected the request because of the inconsistencies realised in the supporting documents of the proposed procurement. The valuation of the building was put at P74 million.

The Ministry of Lands and Housing had initially offered De Beers P73, 000,000 as the purchase price. However, De Beers countered with P85, 000,000. On negotiation and converging of the minds, the selling price was finally agreed at P79, 000,000.

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Sad state of Brigades: dumped and ignored!

21st September 2020

Auditor General, Pulane Letebele, has expressed discontentment at the worrying and deteriorating state of brigades in the country.

In an audit inspection which was carried out at Tshwaragano Brigade in Gabane, a number of observations showed weaknesses and shortcomings in the conduct of the financial affairs of the institution.

According to Letebele’s report, former students of the brigade had been engaged to carry out maintenance works on the school premises, comprising of painting, tiling, plumbing and electrical works, which covered the period from July 2017 to June 2018.

Although the agreed maintenance period had elapsed, the works had not been completed because of unavailability of funds and this situation had persisted up till the time of inspection in November 2019.

Auditor General says arrangements should have been made in time for funds to be available to complete these relatively minor works even before the works commenced.

Various contractors had been engaged for clearing the bush and for the supply of concrete stones, pit and river sand and hiring equipment for digging the trench towards the construction of an auto mechanics workshop, the report said.

It stated that the cost of services and supplies provided totalled P117 949.80. However, despite the services and the supplies having been paid for, the construction works had not commenced for a long period afterwards, resulting in the trench filling back in.

The audit inquiries had not elicited satisfactory responses as both the institution and the Ministry had not accepted the responsibility for the project, although orders for the provision for the supplies had been made. For their part, the Ministry had stated that they had sub warranted funds for the purchase of porta cabins.

Letebele indicated that it is therefore confusing that a project which is critical to the functioning of an institution such as this one would commence without a well-defined plan.

Furthermore, the accounting and maintenance of records for the supplies items were not of the standard prescribed by the Supplies Regulations and Procedures in that the supplies ledger cards, the main accounting records for Government assets, were not properly maintained for the recording of receipts and issues.

This had resulted in significant discrepancies between physical and ledger balances, while in other instances the supplies items had not been recorded at all.

The report says 24 of the 91 new computers found in the computer laboratory at Kumakwane ABC campus were not recorded anywhere, as were the other computers in the storeroom which could not be counted due to the disorderly storage conditions.

The institution had entered into a contract agreement with a security company for the provision of security services at Tshwaragano Brigade, ABC and Horticulture campuses at Kumakwane for a 2-year period which ended in June 2018, WeekendPost learnt.

After the contract expired in June 2018, an extension was granted till the 30th September 2018. Since then, there has been no security service coverage for the institution to-date. According to Auditor General, in the face of prevailing crimes, it is of paramount importance that government properties be protected by provision of security services at all times.

At Tlokweng Brigade, it was noted that the kitchen staff were working under difficult conditions as the kitchen facilities and equipment, such as the cold room, tilting pot, food warmers and solar power for hot water were dysfunctional. The kitchen roof was leaking and men’s restrooms was not working. All these need to be brought to a reasonable and functional state of repair.

The kitchen staff should use a purpose-designed Rations Ledger for the recording of receipts and issues of foodstuffs to reflect the usage of those items. As far back as 2014 the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services had found that the house occupied by the bursar was uninhabitable on account of structural defects, the report said.

A site visit during the audit had established that the house was indeed unfit for occupation as there were cracks on the walls, power switches were not working and the roof was leaking. On a sadder note, there were a number of finished items of clothing, such as dresses, shirts, and jackets from students’ practical exercises from the Fashion Design Textiles Workshop.

Auditor General shared her take on this, saying: “I have not been able to ascertain the policy on the disposal of products from these practicals. A trace of 103 green acid-proof overalls which had been purchased in August 2018 had indicated that there was no record of these items having been recorded or issued, nor were they available in stock. I was not able to obtain any explanation for this situation.”

Kgatleng brigade was also audited and inspected by Auditor General who observed that the brigade has 26 institutional houses at Bokaa, both old campus and new campus. Some of these houses are very old and dilapidated, with two declared uninhabitable. The condition of the houses is a clear indication of lack of care and maintenance of these properties.

At the time of the audit, there was no contractor engaged for the provision of security guard services at the new campus, after expiry of the previous one in July 2019.  It is hoped that steps would be taken to safeguard the security of the premises and government properties against any acts of hooliganism.

In August 2019, there was a break-in at the electrical and at the plumbing maintenance workshops and a number of high value items, such as drilling machines, bolt cutters, spanners and cables, were stolen. The break-in and theft were reported to the police.

“However, at the time of writing this report I was not aware of the outcome of the police investigation, nor of any loss report submitted in terms of the Supplies Regulations and Procedures,” Letebele said.

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