Government is set to cut its overall import bill by 50%by the next financial year.
This was said by the Assistant Trade and Industry Minister, Keletso Rakhudu when officially opening the second Standard Chartered Bank Botswana branch in Francistown which is also the 19th in the country.
Rakhudu said government was aiming to cut the import bill through the recently introduced Economic Diversification Drive (EDD).
“Last (financial) year alone, the government utilized a total of P20 billion on imports,”Rakhudu revealed.
Early February, the Bank of Botswana drew a total of P21 billion from the Pula Fund in order to meet the country’s ever spiralling import bill.
Pula Fund houses the national savings from chronological mineral exports and budget surpluses and is in the form of a long-term sovereign wealth fund managed by international fund managers which is invested in various assets.
Although the Bank of Botswana has allayed fears that the P21 billion drawdown of Pula Fund might have a direct impact on the economy, the government has decided to take decisive action such that it would not be caught napping in future.
It is against this backdrop that the government seeks to cut down its overall import bill by at least half by next financial year.
Rakhudu said the government’s ambition was to ensure that at least 50% of the import bill is spent locally because having money circulating locally would strengthen the local financial sector. “We want money to be circulating locally and ensure that the banking sector stays alive and vibrant,” said the Junior minister
“Instead of borrowing outside, the government will decide to borrow locally because a thriving banking sector will have the capacity,” said Rakhudu amid a thunderous round of applause from the gathering that was comprised by mainly bankers.