Botswana's President Festus Mogae has predicted a huge budget deficit for the next financial year, partly blaming high cost of dealing with a devastating Aids epidemic.
Botswana promises anti-Aids drugs to all who need them
In a statement on Saturday, the president said current financial estimates suggested the 2003/04 budget would be a deficit of 1.9 billion pula ($396m) from the previous estimated surplus.
"The country still continues to be devastated by the impact of HIV/Aids. Government has committed an amount of 740 million pula ($150m) for an intervention programme," the statement said.
Botswana has the highest HIV/Aids infection rate in the world, with nearly 40% of the country's adult population suffering from the disease.
President Mogae said the government was actively implementing expensive anti-Aids projects aimed at providing anti-retroviral drugs and preventing mother-to child transmission of the disease.
The announcement about the budget crisis coincided with the opening of a major Aids conference in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
President Mogae also said lower revenues from mineral sales and severe drought were the other major reasons blowing holes in the country's budged.