Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Legislator Letsholo calls for citizen-owned bank

Member of Parliament (MP) for Kanye North Thapelo Letsholo has said it is high time Botswana has a citizen-owned bank.

“I challenge Bank of Botswana to seriously and intentionally facilitate the development of the first fully Botswana citizen -owned commercial bank in Botswana. This will ensure that the super profits currently enjoyed by banks remain in Botswana and possibly get reinvested in country,” advised Letsholo.

Contributing on the budget speech he said transforming and rationalizing of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) when implemented would make savings of about P5 billion flows annually to the enterprises.

He told Parliament the promise was made 15 years ago but has not been implemented. He said if they effect real transformation of SOEs they can make massive savings.

Letsholo said Botswana must move away from a culture of spending to that of investing, adding that therefore must see bigger financial outcomes from the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), as a possible Botswana’s investment holding company. 

He stated that they must realize significant revenue contributions flowing in from BDC’s investments, which ought to be spread globally. He observed that the equivalents of BDC in other countries have made significant contributions to their government revenues and GDP. 

“We have to expect bigger visions and investment strategies from BDC, and all other SOEs Enterprises for that matter. This calls for strong and resolute leadership at both Executive and Board levels, so that future generations can inherit a better, stronger and more resilient country,” he stated. 

Letsholo stated that if they take the IMF estimate that 37 percent of Botswana government expenditure is wasteful, then there is P1.85 Billion that can be recovered from SOEs. He said the resulting P1.85 Billion savings is enough to cover a number of the key priorities for the people of Botswana.

MP Letsholo further told Parliament he believes that radical transformation should not only be limited to State Owned Enterprises. He observed that the diamond industry is shifting and so should their approach.

He stated that with only a few years left before the end of mine for a number of the government mines, they should seek to maximize the value extracted. He gave an example of the set up of the Okavango Diamond company (ODC), and stated that it was a stroke of genius which must be supported, harnessed and leveraged.

“I propose that through ODC, we cut out the middle man that is De Beers, and sell all of our diamonds directly to the market in order to maximize the revenue from our diamonds. We need every single Thebe possible and the current allocation of about 15 percent to ODC is just untenable,” he said

Letsholo stated that he believes that even in a suppressed economy, opportunity is everywhere, adding that as a government; they have to jealously guard the national resources to a point of being considered somewhat selfish, all in the best interest of the citizens and for their protection and participation.

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