Botswana has approached the World Bank for budgetary support after the Coronavirus crisis hurt revenue, Finance Minister Thapelo Matsheka said on Thursday. Botswana has registered relatively few cases, but lockdown restrictions have disrupted economic activities and caused the loss of income in key sectors such as diamond mining and sales.
“We have set up a team, and the World Bank has also set up a team to assist us,” Matsheka told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“No quantum is in place yet, but ideally, if we can get about 50% of the expected 13.6 billion pula ($1.19 billion) deficit for the remainder of the development plan, which ends in 2023, that should give us a smoother landing into the next development plan.”
The World Bank’s Botswana representative, Guido Rurangwa said talks on the request for budgetary support were ongoing.
“The government and the World Bank are currently discussing details of the support, including the amount,” Rurangwa said in an emailed response.
Botswana’s parliament in September approved a 14.5 billion pula economic recovery plan, which Matsheka said will be funded through a combination of local borrowing and external sources. Parliament had also approved a government request to double its domestic borrowing programme to 30 billion pula to fund its budget deficit and economic stimulus.
$1 = 11.4025 pulas Reporting by Brian Benza; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Andrew Cawthorne