First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) says Botswana is ready for business, but what seems to be evading the country is a working formula which could propel the initiatives to foster economic diversification.
Reviewing the 18th national budget on Thursday, FNBB Chief Executive officer, Lorato Boakgomo-Ntakhwana, said at the national level, the budget presentation happens to be one of the most significant political events in a given year. She added that it gives an overview of how government views the macro-economic environment in which people are currently operating and in which they will operate under in the future.
Boakgomo-Ntakhwana observed that the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo alluded to Botswana’s economic growth at 7.8 percent as at third quarter 2011 led by construction and manufacturing. She said what is encouraging is that the non mining sector grew by 8.9 percent during that period. She further stated that the Minister’s economic outlook shows that the country is projected to grow by only 4.4 percent in 2012 and 3.9 percent in 2013. According to Boakgomo-Ntakhwana, this explains the minister’s bearish sentiment when he said ‘the economic situation in which Botswana currently finds herself in dictates that people must operate within a severely constrained budget to satisfy the diverse needs of the society’.
“Latest indications are that African countries are registering nominal growth with a few showing signs of real growth. This growth is attributed to the sale of oil and other natural resources, including minerals to new and upcoming economies such as China, India and Brazil. This growth pattern augurs well for Africa, and it is helping to reduce dependency on European products to those more affordable from countries such as China in particular,” she said.
She further said that it was encouraging to hear that the overall 2010/2011 budget deficit came in 35 percent lower than was anticipated and the 2011/2012 at 46 percent lower. Over and above that, she said there was moment of respite when the Minister announced that this year a modest surplus is projected.
Boakgomo-Ntakhwana said FNBB made an attempt to contribute in demystifying the budget, and more than anything else, help deepen the nations understanding on the intricacies of the budget and how it impacts on their daily lives.
“As a financial institution and a partner in economic development, over the last seventeen years, FNBB has seen the need to equip the business community and its customers with knowledge about the budget by bringing experts under one roof to provide an in-depth analysis of the budget,” she stated.
Boakgomo-Ntakhwana also observed that the government is living up to its responsibilities by transparently stating its programme of activities, which are aimed at addressing many of the challenges which the nation faces.
“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be afraid of,” she quoted Confucius.