Botswana may approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to help with funding to deal with the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak, the southern African country’s finance and economic development minister Thapelo Matsheka said Wednesday.
While Matsheka is not currently considering an emergency budget, he is advocating asking the two international financial institutions for assistance, as the world’s largest producer of diamonds by value seeks ways of emerging from the virus’ economic crisis.
“In a conversation with the Bank of Botswana and treasury, I indicated that we should approach and speak to the IMF and World Bank,” said Matsheka, adding that the southern African country’s economy was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Botswana has a relatively low number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in the country and one death out of the 227 registered cases. At least 181 confirmed cases have been transferred out of Botswana since they are of foreign nationals.
However, Botswana’s economy has been severely impacted by lockdowns to curb the outbreak with the budget deficit expected to more than double as reduced diamond sales and exports hit revenues.
In a draft economic recovery and transformation plan unveiled by the country’s ministry of finance and economic development in conjunction with the Bank of Botswana late last week, it is estimated that Botswana needs a total of 40 billion pula (US$3.4B) over the next 30 months to revive its coronavirus-hit economy and to cover expected budget deficits.
An estimated total cost of economic recovery and transformation plan spending is 20 billion pula over two and a half years while the anticipated budget deficit over the same period under review is similar, making a total of approximately 40 billion pula to be funded, read part of a draft plan seen by Xinhua.