Thursday, June 13, 2024

BoB paid P425 million to Government in 2022

The central bank, Bank of Botswana (BoB) distributed P425.5 million to its sole shareholder, the Botswana Government during 2022, the bank’s Chief Financial Officer Daniel Loeto has said.

Loeto, who was presenting the central bank’s financial statements to journalists in the capital Gaborone on Wednesday, said that the dividend pay of P425 million was made after a transfer of the unrealised fair value losses and the unrealised currency gains to the Fair Value Revaluation and Currency Revaluation Reserves, respectively.

In the accounting world, an unrealized loss is a “paper” loss that results from holding an asset that has decreased in price, but not yet selling it and realizing the loss. In the case of BoB, the assets include shares and bonds that the bank issued over the years. During 2022, the bank recoded P8 billion net unrealised fair value losses (2021: P72.2 million losses) on assets it held.

Loeto also said that during 2022, the central bank registered net loss of P5.8 billion in 2022, compared to net income of P5.5 billion in 2021. The loss is attributed to amongst other things the Bank’s administration costs which were higher than in the previous year. Loeto said that the level and costs of Bank of Botswana Certificates also increased.

He shared that foreign exchange reserves decreased by 2.6 percent from P56 billion to P54.5 billion.

“Decrease in reserves is mainly due to adverse market movements”, Loeto said.

He however noted that as of July 2023 the Government Investment Account grew up to P18.6 billion as Foreign Exchange Reserves expanded to P70.3 billion.

The central bank manages foreign exchange reserves through two portfolios; the Liquidity Portfolio and the long-term investment portfolio known as Pula Fund. The Liquidity Portfolio – is made up of the Liquidity Investment Tranche (LIT) and the Transaction Balance Tranche (TBT).

The significant increase in the GIA balks the slowdown down witnessed in diamond trade in the first half of the year, with all trades coming lower than the same period last year.

Botswana generates about 30 percent of its revenue and 70 percent of its foreign exchange earnings from diamonds. When there is excess revenue, the savings are channeled towards the sovereign wealth fund.

The GIA was nearly decimated in 2020 as government relied on it to finance budget deficits. The account dropped from 2019’s balance of P18.3 billion to P2.8 billion in 2020, the lowest balance on record, and finished 2021 with P5.6 billion in the account. Prior to the financial crisis of 2008/9, the GIA was valued at P30.5 billion in December 2008.

With the rapid decline in the sovereign wealth fund, the Finance ministry embarked on fiscal sustainability to improve revenue collection and contain expenditure in efforts to return to budget surpluses – using the extra cash to shore up the GIA and maintain it as a fiscal buffer against future shocks.

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