The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr Thapelo Matsheka has assured the nation that government is committed to reducing the percentage of the financial excluded population from 24 percent to 12 percent by 2021. Speaking during the official opening of the Botswana Saving Bank (BSB) branch in Palapye last week he said in 2014 his Ministry developed the Financial Inclusion Strategy that runs from 2015 to 2021 and it is on good course.
“The strategy is aimed mainly at improving access to financial services and reducing the percentage of financially excluded population from 24 to 12 percent by 2021. The strategy has five priority areas which are aimed at; the payment ecosystem; access to low cost saving products; accessible risk mitigation products, the working of the credit market, consumer empowerment, protection and financial literacy,” he said.
He showered accolades on BSB adding that the bank has continued to play an important role in taking the banking services to the unbanked population. He explained that as a result, his Ministry appointed BSB to champion one of the priority areas in the financial inclusion agenda which is “Facilitation of Low Cost, Accessible Savings Products in Botswana” Dr Matsheka said under this mandate, the bank is expected to develop a low cost, accessible flexible savings products for the lower income segment of the population who are currently excluded.
“The bank is indeed a committed partner and a strategic stakeholder that has contributed significantly towards financial education and financial inclusion,” said the Minister.
He also added that as part of implementing the financial inclusion strategy, government is currently developing legislation that will promote access to credit. He said the other legislation will provide for regulation of credit reporting system and the credit bureaus operation in Botswana. He further said there will be another piece of legislation which will provide for the creation of security interests in movable property and harmonization of all secured transactions. Dr Matsheka explained that this legislation will enable the public to access credit in financial institutions as well as have legal protection on their secured interests.
“The legislation will allow individuals with movable property such as motor vehicles, tractors, farm produce, and intellectual property rights to use these as collateral to secure loans from financial institutions,” he said.
He said his Ministry is also currently conducting the Botswana Finscope Consumer Survey 2020, the results of which will determine the level of access to financial services in the adult population. He explained that the results of the survey will inform policy on how to further improve such services. On a different note the Minister lauded BSB for choosing Palapye as another destination to provide its banking services. He said the new branch is strategically located along the A1 road in where it creates convenience and access to customers.
Speaking at the same event, BSB Chief Executive Officer Nixon Marumuloa said as a government owned bank that bear the responsibility for financial inclusion in Botswana, BSB continues to be a key player in the economy and development of the country. He said over the years BSB has deployed various strategies of branch and channel distribution across different areas of Botswana.
“It is very important for all aspects of our business to regularly look at different ways of expanding our business to other areas of the country, bringing banking services to the areas where we previously had no presence, thus increasing our footprint and giving us an opportunity to expand our products and service offerings. This will ensure that our products are accessible to all,” said Marumuloa.
BSB has three branches countrywide in Gaborone, Francistown and the latest in Palapye.