Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has set up a confidential and independently managed hotline that will assist to identify and address ethics and compliance issues as well as fraud and corruption.
Speaking at the launch of BITC’s fraud and ethics hotline, BITC Board member Wilhemina Makwinja said the hotline will provide employees, stakeholders and customers with an opportunity to report possible illegal, unethical or improper conduct within the organization. She added that the BITC hotline comes at a time when government is keen on seeing entities upping up the fight against institutional fraud and corruption by putting measures in place to prevent, curb and identity it. She expressed concern at the rising cases of fraud, theft and other criminal activities in some corporate organizations, adding that a majority of such crimes go undetected while others go unreported, resulting in financial losses and eventually destroying organizations.
“The best practice in whistle blowing demands that confidentiality and anonymity must be respected to allow and encourage employees, customers and others to report corruption and wrongdoing,” said Makwinja.
She revealed that BITC has engaged Deloitte Consultants to independently implement and manage the corruption hotline to ensure confidentiality and trust.
“One of our key responsibilities is to ensure that BITC is led through impeccable corporate governance to ensure that we provide our clients, partners, employees and suppliers with the confidence and trust they require. Since our inception in 2012, our journey as BITC has seen us transcending to become the lead investment and trade promotion agency in Botswana, driven by excellence, performance, professionalism and good governance,” said Makwinja.
She further pointed out that BITC has put in place structures and policies that will enable it to succinctly deliver on its mandate and become the main contributor to economic diversification, which will harness an equitable, high income status for Botswana. For his part, Deloitte Senior Manager Brian Watts said protection of the whistle-blower is fundamental to the system, as without protection there are risks of discovery and reprisals against the whistleblower.
“This will compromise the tip-off system and diminish both the detection and deterrent value. It is essential that BITC commits to protection of the whistleblowers,” he said.
Watts pointed out that fraud is not harmless or victimless as approximately five percent of turnover is lost to fraud and unethical practice. He further said 10 percent of fraud cases are discovered and disclosed while 40 percent are known by a few and not made public. A further 50 percent goes undetected and ends up buried in the cost of doing business.
Also speaking at the launch, BITC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Letsebe Sejoe said the organization plays a critical role in contributing to diversification of the economy by attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and domestic investment, facilitating expansions and spearheading development and growth of exports by promoting locally manufactured goods to regional and international markets.
“We continuously seek to achieve creation of a customer service centered approach that is highly responsive to investors’ needs and expectations, while at the same time upholding high standards of corporate governance,” said Sejoe.