Diamonds annual sales plummet to P9,3bn

Staff Writer
Botswana's diamond exports totalled P9.3 billion year-on-year at the end of September against the current forecast of P13.9 billion and the 2008 total of P21.3 billion.

According to Capital Securities Economic Review report released last Friday, this resulted in total principal exports of P12.1 billion against a forecast of P17.6 billion and P29.9 billion in the previous corresponding period.

During the three months from April to June, diamond exports averaged P1.58 billion a month, not far below the monthly average of P1.75 billion during the comparable period in 2008.

This ties in with the Governor of the Bank of Botswana's address to business leaders at a trade expo in Gaborone last week where Linah Mohohlo said diamond production had resumed in response to a steady revival of overseas demand for rough diamonds.

"It is expected that this trend will continue in the second half of the (next) year," Mohohlo said.

The Capital Securities report says copper-nickel exports were P1.05 billion against a forecast of P.4 billion and 2008 total of P5.1 billion.

Botswana's foreign exchange reserves depreciated by 11.1 percent in pula terms and 18.5 percent in dollar terms over 12 months ending July 2009.

Botswana's forex reserves stood at P57 614 million or $8150 million as at July 2009. In Pula terms, they increased by 6.0 percent over the second half of 2008; but as the recession started to bite, they dropped by 17.5 percent. In dollar terms, they slid by 11.5 percent over the second half of 2008 followed by a lesser 2.6 percent decrease over the first

half of 2009.

In her address to business leaders, Mohohlo said the resumption of diamond exports in recent months had also led to surpluses in the current account of the balance payments.

 "The foreign exchange reserves are now increasing after months of consistent decline," she said.

The global recession forced Botswana, which has a history of budget surpluses and borrowing at levels of two percent of GDP, to up debt levels to 20 percent of GDP.

"However, decades of conservative financial management means debt at the new levels remains manageable," says the Capital Securities report.

As at June 2009, Botswana had foreign debt of P12.3 billion ($1.8 billion) or 15 percent of 2009 forecast GDP, which is covered by 21 percent of its current reserves, or 71 percent of forecast exports over 2009. It had domestic debt of P4.1 billion ($0.6 bln) or five percent of GDP, which is covered by seven percent of the reserves, or 24 percent of the exports.

After allowing for this cover, the current reserves would sit at a total of P41.2 billion ($6.1bln). To put these figures into context, Botswana's forecast import bill for 2009 was +/- P20.0 billion ($3.0 bln) while its total budgeted spending over 2008/09 was P 35.9 billion ($ 5.3 bln.).

The Botswana government also had a balance at its central bank of P21.8 billion ($3.2 bln) as at June 2009.



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