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Govt, banks finalise P1bn COVID-19 scheme

PAULINE DIKUELO
Ready to rumble: Habana says talks have been finalised PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG PAULINE DIKUELO
Local banks have finalised negotiations with government agencies on the P1 billion loan guarantee scheme to be offered to the private sector as a coronavirus (COVID-19) intervention.

BusinessWeek is informed the banks and Botswana Export Credit Insurance (BECI) will be signing an agreement launching the facility ‘within days’. BECI, a government-owned credit insurance firm, is tasked with administering the loan guarantee scheme.

Under the scheme, government will cover private sector loans to participating banks up to 80%, with the banks taking up the rest of the risk.

BECI chief executive officer (CEO), Cowell Habana told BusinessWeek the framework for the operationalisation of the COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme had been finalised and all banks would participate except Bank Gaborone.  “We have signed up with most of the banks and only First National Bank was left behind,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.

“We will be signing some time this week.

“Submissions of applications by the qualifying business entities to their respective banks shall then be opened soon after that.” BECI previously said applications for

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guarantees by banking institutions would be received until November 30, 2020. The scheme guidelines can be accessed through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and BECI.

“I would like to urge businesses to take advantage of this endeavour,” Habana said.

First National Bank Botswana CEO, Steven Bogatsu confirmed the bank had finalised its negotiations with BECI for the scheme. “There was some back and forth because we had to make sure the rules and responsibilities are clearly defined or the customer,” he told analysts and media at a briefing on the bank’s annual results on Wednesday. “These have since been bedded down and as an industry, we have discussed with the relevant stakeholders and that scheme is now ready for signing.”

The scheme is part of government interventions valued at about P5 billion, which includes wage subsidy and tax relief, amongst others.



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