Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Botswana not donating money to Zimbabwe. Gaolathe - Botswana-Zimbabwe seek `Win-Win Economic Opportunities`

source: Republic of Botswana (22/4/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 11 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline

C2) 21/4/09: Botswana not donating money to Zimbabwe. Gaolathe - Botswana-Zimbabwe seek “Win-Win Economic Opportunities”

Speaking at a news conference today, the Minister for Finance and Development Planning, the Hon. Baledzi Gaolathe, strongly denied allegations that Government intended to donate public funds to Zimbabwe.

In his remarks the Minister stated that Botswana was instead prepared to facilitate lending by financial institutions, as well as joint ventures by other private and parastatal bodies, in the interest of realizing win-win opportunities that would be for the economic benefit of both countries.

Contrary to some reports, the Minister explained that Government’s role would be focused on encouraging local banks to extend credit facilities to select projects in Zimbabwe by providing “letters of comfort”, that is guarantees of repayment on their loans.

While the total line of credit to be thus guaranteed could be up to 500 million pula, it is not expected that any funds will be drawn from public coffers. It is rather anticipated that all of the loans will be self-liquidating.

The Minister went on to further note that Government was eager to promote projects that will revive and increase cross border trade and investment.

Citing examples of potential economic partnership in such sectors as power generation, steel production, leatherworks, agriculture and pharmaceuticals, he affirmed that collective efforts to kick start Zimbabwe’s economy could also serve as an impetus for Botswana’s own diversification efforts.

The Minister informed the gathering that Botswana had recently sent a high level delegation to Zimbabwe, consisting of private and parastatal representative, as well as Government stakeholders to discuss possible joint ventures with their Zimbabwean counterparts.

The Minister further confirmed that he would be joining others at the forthcoming IMF/World Bank Group Meeting in Washington D.C. in efforts to promote the SADC endorsed Zimbabwe Emergency Economic Recovery Programme, by seeking to persuade major international financial institutions to restructure the country’s existing debt so that it could once qualify for soft loans.

The Minister also revealed that the Washington meeting would provide an opportunity for Botswana to seek concessionary support for financing some of its own budget initiatives in the context of the recent G20 Summit’s decision to significantly re-capitalise IMF support to emerging economies affected by the global credit crisis.

The Minister leaves for Washington D.C. today.

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