Govt to drive financial inclusion through BSB

Batswana have been told that the government’s target is to turn around the fortunes of Botswana Savings Bank (BSB), use the institution to push for financial inclusion and provide banking services in a very affordable manner. Botswana has one of the highest baking charges in the region with a number of international banking groups making huge profits from high interest charges. BSB and other state-owned financial institutions are finding it hard to compete as they have limited products.

Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo
Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo

The minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabelo said for the period spanning from 2011 to 2015, BSB profits increased from P4 million to P20 million. Its revenues increased by up to 64% from P52 million to P85 million. At the same time, BSB has more than doubled its asset book from P606 million to P1.57 billion. However, this is still a far cry from billions that foreign banks make in profits when combined together.

“The aim is to turn the business around to drive the financial inclusion agenda with the intention to provide customer-centric financial services at affordable costs to disadvantaged and low income segments of the society,” Mabeo told legislators.

“Here we are talking about the disadvantaged, the low-income segment of the society. So, sometimes as Government, we need to relook at our strategies. We feel that there are some groups that are being excluded; we need to go in there and ensure that we push the Government’s agenda and the Government’s mandate.”

Mabeo added that amongst its many initiatives to increase its channels, BSB has recently successfully rolled out ATMs on its network of branches for faster and easier access to financial services. BSB is in line to be merged with BotswanaPost in a move that will create a Postbank.

Already, as part of the BSB and BotswanaPost merger, BSB has developed an Overarching Strategy that defines a transformation phase taking into consideration new value proposition for customers. The bank has launched three new products namely Debit card, Express loan and Lecha Loan.

BSB has not yet obtained a commercial banking licence yet, Mabeo said plans are at an advanced stage to submit an application to Bank of Botswana for consideration before the end of 2016.

Gaborone Central MP, Dr Phenyo Butale had asked the Minister of Transport and Communications to brief the house on the performance of the Botswana Savings Bank for the last five (5) years; he should further state: the initiatives that have been undertaken to improve the performance of the banking institution; and  why the bank is not introducing services such as Auto Teller Machines (ATMs) since they have a full banking licence.