The Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower, together with Grant Thornton Acumen, will next week hold a budget review dinner at Marang Hotel in Francistown and Bosele Hotel in Selibe Phikwe.
BOCCIM Regional Manager, Eileen Van der est, told The Sunday Standard last week that they have invited the business community, the media, government officials and the local authority to the dinner at which they will discuss the relevance of the budget speech and its implications, especially to the northern business community and the economy at large. The budget review dinner has always been a BOCCIM tradition that has, over the years, been an overwhelming success that has been beneficial to both the business community and BOCCIM.
Van der est said that the purpose of the dinner is to review the national budget, which will be presented by Finance Minister Baledzi Gaolathe on February 5, and get points and indications from Francistown’s civil and business community.
“After the review, points brought forward by the business community are compiled into a report and handed over to the relevant authorities,” said Van der est. Vijay Kalyanaraman a partner at Grant Thornton Acumen has also been invited to give a detailed analysis of the budget speech.
BOCCIM has always been a prime critique of the budget speech and they have always maintained the tradition of giving their opinion on the implications of the budget speech and making representations on behalf of the business community.
“BOCCIM ensures that concerns, ideas and views raised by the business community are presented to government through various channels,” said Van der est.
Francistown and Phikwe residents, especially, will be looking to hear what measures government has put in place to address the ailing towns. While Gaborone and Palapye have, in comparison, been experiencing expedited economic growth, infrastructure development and service delivery, the two towns have been steadily declining, with Francistown gripped by a shortage of land and failure of the local authority to provide basic services while Selibe Phikwe faces a bleak future in the face of the imminent closure of the BCL Mine.
While Francistown has over the past few years experienced an economic boom, especially due to the increase in mining activities around the city, the local authority has dismally failed to accommodate the resultant economic and population boom. Basic services, like litter picking, prove to be a long haul for the FCC, and the second city’s roads are plagued with gaping potholes due to lack on maintenance. Traffic jams are the order of the day as developments that were meant to meet the projected increase in traffic in the city have over the years been shelved due to lack of funds. On the other hand, ordinary citizens have had to grapple with the increased prices in real estate as competition for accommodation escalated. Francistowners will also be looking for the minister to elaborate how much has been allocated towards purchasing land from land barons like Tati Compamy to augment the debilitating shortage of land in and around the city.
At the same time Selibe Phikwe residents will be looking to hear how much the minister has allocated to business development projects in the city, especially after international consultants CAS Consultants recently made a clarion call to government to invest billions into the city to alleviate a possible catastrophe that would result from the envisaged closure of the BCL mine in 2020. The report indicated that over 15 000 people will be directly affected by the closure of BCL while over 30 000 will lose their livelihood if government does not take action to address the impending catastrophe. The consultants also called for the setting up of a diversification master plan that would look into setting up sustainable industries and diversifying the town’s economy from mining as a way of charting the way forward for Selibe Phikwe.