The country's largest diversified financial group, Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited, says government should source more of its funding domestically to allow the private sector to better contribute to the economy's growth.
Current fiscal rules limit government debt to 40% of GDP with a 50/50 split between domestic and offshore funding.
By March 2018, domestic debt amounted to P10.2 billion or about half the fiscal limit, while external debt, by March 2017 was pegged at P16.7 billion. March 2017 marks the last available official data for external debt, which mostly comprises loans from international financiers, particularly the African Development Bank, which lent Botswana $1.5 billion in 2009.
Domestically, government borrows through quarterly bond and treasury bill auctions conducted on its behalf by the Bank of Botswana.
BIHL CEO, Catherine Lesetedi said the private sector could contribute more to the economy than what it is currently.
“For example, we believe that far more government funding can and should be sourced locally from Botswana-based financial institutions, with far less onerous conditions, than from offshore providers such as the International Monetary Fund,” she said in BIHL’s 2017 Annual Report.
“This is a conversation that deserves far more attention than it is currently
Lesetedi was commenting on the country’s unemployment crisis and the role the private sector can take. Her remarks echo recommendations by the Bank of Botswana, which has urged government to increase the frequency of its participation in the bond market.
Speaking on unemployment, the BIHL CEO said the economy was simply not growing fast enough to create sufficient jobs, particularly to the youth.
“Unemployment is one of the greatest challenges facing Botswana,” she said.
“Having a large and growing cadre of unemployed individuals, and especially unemployed young people, is a potentially destabilising situation for any country.
She added: “At the same time, high levels of unemployment can and will affect the sustainability of businesses, which rely for their revenues on the incomes of employed individuals.
In addition, unemployment and poverty increase business risks such as fraud and personal security”.
Listed financial counters have all noted that constrained economic conditions last year impacted on their ability to generate or retain new business as well as limit impairments.