BoB withstands volatility

SHARE   |   Thursday, 23 July 2020   |   By Bakang Tiro
Loeto Loeto

The central bank has managed to defeat the colossal pinch of sluggish economic activity that prevailed in 2019 by recording a massive net income worth P6.9 billion.

The net income value signals a significant increase as compared to the P2.8 billion that the bank posted in the prior year thus keeping Bank of Botswana (BoB) upbeat to conquer looming economic shocks.

Giving an overview of the financial results and operations of the bank for 2019, Chief Financial Officer at BoB, Daniel Loeto, said the performance shows robustness as 2019 was a tough year.

He said economic activity was shrouded by high volatility with the global economic activity modest at 2.9 percent growth as compared to faster growth of 3.6 percent in 2018.

BoB CFO also revealed that low interest environment persisted in the year under review, hence low returns in bounds but improvement on valuations of global stock markets was recognised.

“P4.1 billion was distributed to government in 2019 compared to P4.8 billion in 2018. The distribution covered P498 million pre-set dividend and P3.1 billion in residual income. Net income higher on account of unrealised fair value gains on equities and bonds,” Loeto said.

In addition, he said, the bank’s assets in monetary value stands at P66 billion in comparison to P72.2 billion in 2019 as foreign reserves decreased by 8.7 percent from P71 billion in 2018.

Decrease in reserves, Loeto stressed, was due to net foreign exchange outflows of P13.8 billion offset by the net fair value revaluation gains of P6.6 billion against loss of P2.2 billion prior year.

The foreign reserves, according to Loeto, declined to P65.2 billion in 2019, adding that P1.8 billion interest and dividends were earned on investment as equated to P1.6 billion in 2018.

Administration costs increased from P543 million in 2018 to P601 million in 2019 as a result of rental payments as well as a surge in staff wage owing to the public service salary hikes of 2019.

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Governor of BoB Moses Pelaelo said some of key messages have become apparent, clearly suggesting that the current growth model for Botswana going forward would not be viable.

“First, that a key driver of economic and welfare prospects for Botswana, namely, the export potential has, over the last few years, faltered and shrunk as a proportion of GDP,” he observed.

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To this end, Pelaelo is of the view that there is an urgent need for rejuvenation by redesigning the country’s industrial policies to promote growth of the private sector.

Giving an insight of economic insights of 2019, Dr Alex Kganetsano, Director, for Research and Financial Stability at BoB, maintained that economic diversification now needs serious execution.

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He said the economy contracted highly during the previous year, saying the current prevailing circumstances provided by Covid-19 pandemic would weaken the economy more.

According to him, GDP growth slowed in Q1 of 2020 to 2.6 percent unlike the faster expansion of 4.5 percent GDP growth in March 2019. As such he called for more vigorous shock absorbing strategies.

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Dr Kganetsano averred that the major sources of government revenue being minerals (diamonds) and SACU revenue were severely impacted by Covid-19 – increasing pressure for diversification.