Former assistant minister of finance and development planning Charles Tibone fell short of saying the Botswana Democratic Party government would at some stage be voted out of power for failing to diversify the economy.
He was addressing the business community at the Grant Thornton and Business Botswana Private Growth Business Awards last Wednesday
He expressed sadness and disappointment that the BCL mine was no more.
”I must say how sad I am that one of the largest employer in Botswana, BCL Mine, is facing collapse. I was once minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources and BCL was under my portfolio and David Magang was also in that space at some stage so I had hope that this time would not come,” said Tibone.
”As people, we are exceptionally peaceful. This was confirmed by Ban Ki Moon at our Bot50 celebration in New York. On corruption we are ranked the lowest in Africa. The Mo Ibrahim Index ranks us high. Yet all these good attributes do not translate into a tailwind that propels growth and diversification of our economy. Last year we nearly ended in recession at 0.3 percent growth rate. This year 3.6 percent is expected and next year 4.6 percent. These are not robust growth rates. Rwanda and Tanzania are able to achieve 6 percent, so why can’t we?” asked Tibone
Tibone said if a government failed to diversify the economy to a point where it becomes a national concern, people can vote it out of power. He said if the private sector fails to grow their businesses to a point where that becomes a national concern, the economy collapses and that is worse than being voted out of power.
He said analysts had warned that if Botswana continued with the current path, where government is dominant in most sectors, prospects for high economic growth rates will be compromised and the country may experience adverse investment ratings, increasing unemployment and less diversification of the economy.
Tibone said the BDP government should be alert and cautions of injecting massive resources into entities that had not guaranteed growth.
“This evidence therefore leads one to the observation that there is a distinct prospect that the privatisation of a number of government parastatals would not simply lead to quantitative growth of our private sector but possibly to a dramatic transformation of our economy,” said Tibone
“Theoretically, if a government fails to diversify the economy to a point where this becomes a national corn, people can vote it out of power,” said Tibone
Tibone advised the current leadership to give the private sector a chance to avoid a situation where the Botswana economy is dominated by government involvement to a point where the private sector feels throttled.