Saturday, June 3, 2023

AfDB twists facts about Botswana’s external debt

In another editorial misstep that will definitely draw the ire of the Botswana government, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has misstated facts in its quarterly report on Southern Africa.

In the 2014 second quarter edition of the online Southern Africa Quarterly Overview and Analysis, AfDB says that while Botswana’s gross public debt remains sustainable, the external debt breached the country’s public external debt ceiling of 20 percent.

“The stock of Botswana’s gross external debt rose sharply in recent years due to increased borrowing to address the shock arising from the global economic crisis; it decreased to 26 percent of GDP in 2013 from 28.5 percent in 2012,” the report says.

Those figures are being challenged by Boineelo Peter, who is the Director Budget Analysis and Debt Management in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. Peter says external debt stood at 18.63 in 2011/12 and that as at the end of 2013/14, total debt stood at 21.99 percent – 15.76 percent in external debt and 6.22 percent in domestic debt.

What the AfDB says happened would be against the law. The Stock, Bonds and Treasury Bills Act says that “the total foreign debt and government guaranteed debt shall not exceed 20 per cent of the annual gross domestic product.” As Peter explains, this limitation has never been breached.

“Botswana has never exceeded the statutory debt limit of 20 percent external debt and 20 percent domestic debt,” she says.

Sunday Standard learns that the government will engage the continental bank over this matter. Apparently this is a serious issue because it portrays Botswana in negative light – as a country that doesn’t obey its own laws. This could sully its reputation among lending institutions.


Read this week's paper