Sunday, May 19, 2024

Botswana Police in bank deals dilemma

Hundreds of Police officers who were hoping to augment their meagre salaries through a credit facility arrangement with Barclays Bank Botswana face uncertain financial future as the credit facility has been reportedly suspended following Botswana Police Service (BPS)’s decision to extend a similar arrangement to Bank Gaborone.

The Botswana Police Service has a welfare scheme for Police Officers called Botswana Police Savings and Loans Guarantee Scheme through which officers take loans from financial institutions at a low interest rate.

It is understood that prior to extending the credit facility to Bank Gaborone “loan taking with Barclays was suspended in February, 2010 to allow reduction of the loan book and auditing of scheme accounts. At the time the understanding was that the exercise had not been completed and once this had been done loan taking would be reinstated.

Sources say the result is that officers in charge of the credit facility at the BPS head-quarters have since approached their counterpart at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) for funds. Speculation is rife that after being transferred to BPS facility, the BDF officers would benefit from interest rates accumulated when the BPS reimburse the latter after securing funds from Bank Gaborone.

But BDF’s Brigadier Nkele said he was not aware of such a development. “There is no such a thing, because I would have sanctioned that,” he said.

But our sources insisted that officers at the BDF and the BPS were colluding to exchange funds between the two institutions.

“At one stage, officers from the credit facility here got millions of Pula from their BDF counterparts and we believe that when the officers here secure funds from one of the banks, the BDF will be refunded and there will be interest charged,” said one of the sources.

BPS officers also claim that since BPS entered into a loan arrangement with Bank Gaborone, officers have been unable to secure loan for the past four months.

One of the officers said: “I have applied for a loan since September hoping to use the money during the festive season but at the last time I checked, I was told that there was a savingram circulating informing us that there was insufficient funds hence our loans could not be processed.”

It is understood that the BPS, through a savingram, informed its officers that their loans could not be ‘processed timely’ due to insufficient funds in the credit facility that the BPS had entered into an agreement with Bank Gaborone.

Bank Gaborone Manager: Marketing and Corporate Communications, Sandra Mokobi was not in a position to respond to Sunday Standard enquiries save to say; “Please be advised that we are not at liberty to make any comment. Kindly refer to Mma Duna at Botswana Police regarding your enquiry.”

Barclays Bank Botswana Public and Media Relations Manager, Sakaiyo Baitshepi, referred this publication to the Botswana Police Service.
Commenting on the matter, Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Christopher Mbulawa said: “It is not true that we have moved the credit facility from Barclays Bank to Bank Gaborone; we have just extended the business relationship to the latter and have temporarily suspended loan taking with the former.”

The result is that, Mbulawa said, they have a credit facility with the two banks.

“We do not deny that there are officers who have applied for loans as far back as September, 2012; though these loans were approved, the concerned officers accounts to this date have not been credited,” said Mbulawa.

Sunday Standard has gathered that a considerable number of police officers are taking loans to augment their salaries, something which has crippled the credit facility.

“The reason for this is that we have reached the agreed maximum threshold and consultations are on-going to increase the limit looking at the high demand of the facility. As a result of reaching this threshold, we had no option except to temporarily suspend loan taking as communicated to the Officers through the alleged savingram. In a nutshell, the matter is being attended and the facility will be restored very soon,” he said.

Mbulawa denied as untrue allegations that some of their officers at the head-quarters were colluding with their BDF counterparts to siphon funds from the BDF credit facility and transfer to the BPS facility “and reward themselves with interest accrued from the deal.”

“This is not true; we have never at anytime borrowed nor contemplated borrowing money from BDF,” said Mbulawa.

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