Botswana needs $3.4 billion in stimulus, to plug budget deficits

Bird’s-eye view of Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone /VCG Photo

Botswana requires some $3.40 billion over the next two and a half years to cover expected budget deficits and to revive its economy which has been battered by COVID-19, according to the ministry of finance.

The Southern African country has reported very low numbers of COVID-19, with only three active cases remaining, but has been severely impacted by lockdowns.

The country’s budget deficit is expected to more than double as reduced diamond sales and exports hit revenues.

“The estimated total cost of Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP) spending is 20 billion pula ($1.7 billion) over 2.5 years,” read a draft of the plan seen by Reuters.

“In addition, the anticipated budget deficit over the same period is 20 billion pula, making a total of approximately 40 billion pula to be funded,” it said.

Industries earmarked for investment include agriculture, health infrastructure, transport and the tourism sector which has ground to a halt due to global travel restrictions and a nationwide lockdown.

Funding for the economic recovery plan and the deficits is expected to be sourced mostly from domestic borrowing, drawing down on government savings, and taxes.

Botswana recently ended a 48-day lockdown allowing businesses and schools to reopen under strict conditions as it seeks to restart the economy.