By Tshireletso Letsebe
GABORONE - Botswana and China have signed an agreement covering economic and technical cooperation entailing a grant offer of about P20 million on Tuesday.
Botswana's Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Mr Kenneth Matambo, said the offer came at a time when Botswana is struggling to balance its budget.
Mr Matambo told the Chinese officials that the whole world is going through very difficult times arising from the global economic meltdown.
He said the agreement strengthens the existing bilateral cooperation with China, noting that the grant is the second one in a year.
He said consultations were still on going on the type of projects to be implemented, adding that there is an umbrella cooperation agreement which provides the basis for economic and technical cooperation between the two countries and covers sectors such as transportation, education, culture, energy, health, agriculture and housing.
He said China has previously assisted Botswana by rehabilitating its railway line and funding the construction of the Letlhakeng-Kang Road.
Also, the government of China has provided many other forms of assistance, including medical experts. Mr Matambo promised that the grant shall be utilized to implement projects agreed upon through consultation between the two governments.
For his part, Ambassador Liu Haunxing of China said the grant aid is a token of congratulation for the successful election and a gesture of goodwill to President Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama and his government.
He said with a view to further developing friendly relations and economic and technical cooperation between China and Botswana, the Chinese Government has provided a number of financial and technical assistance programmes over the years.
Mr Haunxing said the Chinese government has provided grants amounting to RMB 73 million; interest-free loans and soft loans amounting to RMB 1.2 billion. All these grants and loans have been used to implement projects agreed upon by the two governments.
He stated that the international financial crisis also impacted negatively on China. However, the Chinese government is committed to keeping its promises and continues to provide assistance to Botswana.
Mr Haunxing said the Chinese side proposes a series of new measures on China-Africa cooperation, covering areas of agriculture and food production, medical care and health, education, training and scholarly exchange, clean energy, trade promotion and investment expansion.
He said they hope that those new measures will help China and Africa address challenges such as financial crisis and climate change effectively and improve on its infrastructure and strengthen their foundation of economic and social development.
He said China has the confidence that the economic cooperation between China and Botswana would further develop in a profound and lasting sense.BOPA