BMC’s subsidiaries in the red

Loss making: BMC's three subsidiaries are struggling to turn a profit
Loss making: BMC's three subsidiaries are struggling to turn a profit

Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has not paid dividends to its stakeholders for the past five years due to poor performance of its subsidiaries.

Briefing parliamentarians recently, the Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security Patrick Ralotsia said the Commission’s subsidiaries have not been performing well.

BMC owns three-subsidiary companies, which include Table Bay Cold Storage in South Africa, BMC (UK) Holdings in the United Kingdom and Main Line Carriers in Botswana.

According to the minister, at Table Bay Cold Storage, profits were realised from 2012 to 2014 and losses made from 2015 to 2016. Depreciation on the re-valued assets contributed to the loss. Similarly, BMC (UK) holdings made losses in 2012 and 2013 and thereafter made profits, which declined over time. On the other hand, Mainline Carriers made profits in the past five years from 2012 to 2016.

“BMC has cash flow problems which are caused by both internal issues, such as the old plant and external ones, which include low throughput deficiencies of the beef value chain,” he said.

However, according to the minister, government has put in place some interventions to try and save the Commission. Some of the notable interventions include the recent national consultations on the future of BMC and commissioning of the ongoing study on liberalisation of the beef export market. He said a final determination on the referred recommendations is yet to be made by Cabinet. In addition, he said the BMC has set a turnaround standard to pay cattle producers within 14 days after slaughter for direct slaughter suppliers or delivery for feedlot bound cattle.

Currently, Francistown abattoir pays within the set standards of 14 days while Maun and Lobatse abattoirs are failing to comply due to cash flow problems.

“There are still complaints from farmers whose payments have been delayed by the BMC. However, there are strategies put in place to address the situation,” he said.

According to the minister, BMC has acquired bank facilities to bridge the cash flow. Ralotsia also said the government was in the process of implementing the measles control strategy as well as fast track registration of holdings for EU traceability compliance. He said they are also strengthening Foot and Mouth surveillance and control measures.

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