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A shining example

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A shining example

Debswana donates classrooms to Orapa CJSS

Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines (OLDM) handed over four fully furnished classrooms built at a total cost of P3.7 million to Orapa Junior Secondary School.

Speaking at the official opening last Friday, Orapa JSS head, Kolobetso Seabe was quick to thank Debswana for the generous donation.

“We are glad they came up with a plan to give us the four classrooms. Before, we had two classrooms taught in the dining room, one in the pavilion and the other one literally outside!” she said, adding Debswana’s generosity would help the school deliver quality education.

“Our percentage pass rate in 2019 will increase; we believe excellence is when you improve,” reflected Seabe.

For his part, OLDM General Manager, Bakani Motlhabani urged the school to celebrate the milestone with the knowledge that despite the various challenges experienced, they remain ‘an institution of excellence’ in both academics and extracurricular activities.

A shining example
LEADING THE WAY: OLDM General Manager Motlhabani

“We embrace a culture of high performance at our workplace and we are proud to be associated with such extraordinary performance shown by Orapa JSS. I urge the students to take care of the resources and stop vandalising the school property,” added Motlhabani.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Mmetla Masire noted that despite the infrastructural challenges the school has faced over the years, Orapa JSS is constantly at the top of academic excellence in Botswana.

“On that note I wish to take this moment to pay tribute to teachers and students, past and present, who have had to endure the difficulties of learning in the most challenging circumstances yet produce great academic results,” he said, adding the new classroom blocks would reduce congestion and improve the quality of learning.

Masire continued that the government is trying its best to provide infrastructural development and basic necessities across the country but due to budgetary constraints is not able to meet all the demands.

“In light of these tough economic conditions, I wish to challenge other corporates to join forces with government, invest more on key strategic areas such as education so that we prepare our people to be competitive in the global village,” said the Permanent Secretary.

He closed by urging students to refrain from alcohol and substance abuse, sexual activity, early marriages, pregnancies and drugs as they can lead to poor performance at school.

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Business

Amended income tax act finally in effect

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Amended income tax act finally in effect

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Thapelo Matsheka has finally signed for the commencement of the amended Income Tax Act.

This follows the amendment of the Act in December last year,with the act now deemed to have come into effect as of 1 July 2019.

Tax expert, JonathanHore said some businesses can afford to have an early Christmas following Matsheka’s announcement that Micro, Small or Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) and Variable Rate Loan Stock Companies (VRLSCs) will not have their interest expenses limited for tax purposes as of July.

The December 2018 law limited tax deductions on all forms of interest, whether from banks, shareholders or any other source.

“This caused a lot of debate in the business world as any excess interest above the 30 percent cap is added back to profits, thereby increasing tax costs. It became apparent that most corporates would be affected as financing is pivotal to the operations of businesses,” explained Hore, adding the law was of great concern to the major of property developers who operate through the VRLSC vehicle as they naturally incur massive debenture interest bills due to their capital composition.

The SMMEs and VRLSCs were exempt through Income Tax Amendment Act of 2019, which was enacted on 28 Augustbut could only commence after the issuance of a notice, which was done on 6 December.

The tax expert says commencement brings a lot of relief to most SMMEs, as the majority cannot operate without financing.

“Whilst owners of SMMEs may afford to put smiles on their faces, their degree of relief wanes when compared to that of the VRLSC sector, which was under intense pressure from the said law than anyone else,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Hore warned that some capital-intensive sectors such as mining, manufacturing and non-VRLSC property developers need to brace themselves for interest expenses limitations and heavier tax bills.

“From an implementation perspective, it is yet to be seen whether the taxman accepts that the law will not be applicable if a taxpayer is in a loss situation,” he said.

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Lack of certifcates plague SME’s

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Lack of certifcates plague SME’s

Majority of local SMEs not certified to International quality and standards

Botswana’s Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been found lacking when it comes to quality performance.

A study conducted by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in partnership with Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) on 616 local SMEs, discovered only a small number are certified.

The study, whose results were released this week, further scored the majority of SMEs low in terms of meeting quality requirements for buyers.

Indeed, 77 percent of the firms surveyed indicated they are not certified to any quality, sustainability or other standard.

The majority of those certified are reported to hold schemes such as International Safety Certificates offered by Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS). Others hold certificates such as the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) Certificates and Horticultural Guidelines.

In terms of sectors, certification is much higher in the services sector compared to the agricultural sector.

This trend is reportedly in contrast with other countries, where certification is generally more widespread among agricultural companies.

The report found that just five percent of the interviewed agricultural enterprises were certified to international quality, safety and sustainability standards. This is said to be enough evidence to prove that Botswana farms lack the certificates increasingly required by international buyers.

Furthermore, the report states that importers of Botswana beef may prefer quality characteristics that differ from Batswana preferences such as meat tenderness, storage and safety procedures, packaging and certification.

Farmers who were interviewed for the survey reportedly indicated that water shortages prevented them from being able to meet the quality required by the market.

However, although few local firms are certified, it is believed they maybe following quality practices and communicating them to buyers in other ways.

“Some 70 percent of surveyed firms said they produced according to buyer requirements. This indicates that buyers are telling their Botswana suppliers about their market requirements, and Botswana companies are adjusting their production processes accordingly,” the report says.

This is backed up by the fact that 62 percent of the interviewed companies said they compete primarily by offering high quality products and services.

The report further notes that although most firms are seemingly aware of the quality requirements of the market and are thought to be responding to the current buyers’ requirements, their failure to adopt certification schemes means most are not signaling their quality to potential new buyers.

In light of this, the report by ITC, which is a joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and United Nations, says support for certification could help improve the quality competitiveness of Botswana SMEs for international trade.

Email:kabelo@thevoicebw.com
Twitter:@Kabelo_Adamson

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BDC registers P277 million in profits

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BDC registers P277 million in profits

Government investment arm, Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) has announced a 40 percent increase in profits.

Presenting the financial performance to stakeholders recently, the Corporation’s Acting Managing Director, MoatlhodiLakaukau revealed the bulk of the P277 millionprofit came from interest income.

He explainedthis reflectsa positive shift in asset structure, from equity-based assets to more debt-based assets.

In yet another milestone, BDC saw its net worth grow by P700 million to reach P2.1 billion for the first time in 49 years.

Both the Corporation’s total assets and net worth recorded a 12 percent year-on-year growth, primarily due to an increase in investment assets.

During the 2019 financial year, BDC disbursed a total of P742 million to new project venturing, beating the P704 million the corporation had targeted.

During the same period, BDC concluded the first major international transaction, while 1, 700 jobs were reportedly created.

Lekaukau, who was appointed the Acting MD early this year following the departure of BashiGaetsaloe, says BDC will continue to explore both the local and international markets to facilitate requisite long-term funding requirements and strategic targets.

The corporation says its strategic ambition is to explore ventures which further build and enhance Botswana industries that transform the economy and make high returns contributing towards the country’s Vision 2036 ambition ofrealising a high-income status.

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