Saturday, July 11, 2020

Is BPOPF transparent enough given its size and potential risk to the overall economy?

The amount of money lost by BPOPF (Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund) over the last few years should make us as a nation to pause, introspect and start and a national debate over the future of this exceedingly important national asset.

BPOPF needs to become more ambitious in reforming itself.

Otherwise it will have to face extinction.

Vultures are stripping the Fund bare.

A way has to be found to redeem and beef up BPOPF governance capabilities.

BPOPF should be made more independent of Government.

A situation where senior public officers become Chairpersons of the Board is dangerous and in many ways retrogressive.

There is no doubt that when it comes to governance, the BPOPF defence walls need to be strengthened.

The Fund has to be more transparent.

It should take investment decisions based not on anything other than the guarantees for its owners, who are pensioners.

We should be worried that today people retire and take long to receive money due to them from BPOPF or its agents and or administrators.

The losses by BPOPF weakens not just the Fund and its ability to honour its obligations to pensioners ÔÇô now and in future, it is also a massive risk to the country’s economic stability and dynamism of this country.

There is no doubt that the executive management of BPOPF should be strengthened, but even more so, the Board.

The endless rhetoric of BPOPF being the biggest Fund in the country is not enough if it is not accompanied by exemplary governance ethos.

To critics BPOPF rhetoric about size has become an empty gruel.

This is because the Fund, owing to weak defences has become an easy picking for ever circling vultures.

Talk of its size has become empty talk as it is always the one losing most money as it is fleeced by people who are supposed to be taking care of its investments.

BPOPF talk should never be about its size. Rather it should be about governance and how the country is using the Fund to deepen a culture of good corporate governance.

Yet over the last few years, BPOPF has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

The amount of money that BPOPF loses has served to corrode public trust on the Fund.

The clear lack of proper governance structures also undermines the much needed credibility of BPOPF.

BPOPF has to do more to prove its real worth to the nation, other than just churning out scandal after scandal with its string of dubious asset managers that are given money to manage only for them to run away with the money.

We should not wait until BPOPF is on a meltdown for us to start point out the Fund’s Achilles heels.

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.