Botswana Chamber of Commerce and Industry Manpower (BOCCIM) is set to conduct a study aimed at determining the magnitude of the effects of the worldwide economic downturn and financial crisis, on the country’s economy any time soon.
Maria Machailo-Ellis, CEO of the employer federation, told Sunday Standard on Friday her organisation had managed to secure funding for the study from the African Development Bank (AfDB).
“Ideally, we would have liked to commence as soon as now, although it was initially expected that it could take off as early as August,” said Machailo. But due to the lengthy nature of processes involved, it seems unlikely to be that soon.
“At least we can confidently confirm that all the initial stages and requirements have been fulfilled so that only a few things remain to be done with,” she said.
This followed widespread concern that although there continues to be talk of ‘tightening belts,’ as well as contemplation of suspending the National development budget, it is not known precisely how much has Botswana’s economy been affected.
Analysts contend that a lot of damage may be going on unreported behind the scenes with no quantified data to help mitigate the impact of the crisis.
“It is against this background that we felt duty bound as the private sector to set out and establish the real extent of the problem which we believe can only be done by seeking out specifics in respect of statistics,” intimated MachailoÔÇôEllis.
Thus, central to the objectives of the study will be the compilation of a list of affected companies, the extent of job losses and its social implications on the dependent families and communities.
It is intended that at the conclusion of the study, which will take, at the most, eight weeks, a broad-based stakeholder workshop will be arranged to share the findings with all social partners, including civil society.
Although currently there is no statutory or permanent mechanism for monitoring the impact of the crisis, information passed to the Sunday Standard reveals that President Ian Khama has set up a task force to determine the impact of the crisis.
Strikingly, however, Machailo-Ellis has indicated that she is aware of the initiative even though she is not privy to its outlook or its terms of reference.
Therefore, one is left to presume that its focus was on government revenues since the private sector has not been involved.
In spite of this, Machailo-Ellis has said that upon the occasion of sharing the findings of the study, Government will be granted an opportunity to share its perspective, so that their own angle would be integrated into the ADB funded research outcome, for the sake of a holistic approach.
Sunday Standard investigations have revealed that a number of countries, including South Africa, have established special structures to monitor the impact of the crisis.
Furthermore, the 10th Regional Seminar of African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) European Union (EU), Economic Social Interest Groups, which was held recently in Gaborone, recommended that all African countries establish National Committees with a view to monitoring the impact of the crisis.
To maximize the prospects for the success of any social and economic policy interventions, need to involve all the affected Economic and Social actors in the committees was emphasized.
Edward Tswaipe, Secretary General of Tertiary Trainers and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) has expressed concern, that, as a result of lack of central crisis watch center or full fledged structure for monitoring the impact of the crisis on a daily basis, there is no way Government or even the private sector can hope to mitigate its impact.
Moreover, Tswaipe concurred with Machailo-Ellis that statistics, specifically the extent and exact locus of the effect of the crisis, is very critical in informing any policy interventions.
“So the fact that key stakeholders like the private sector, labour Movement and civil Society can only watch from the periphery, makes the whole issue problematic,” said Tswaipe.
The other factor that may perhaps be contributing to the notion that Government can go it alone at the expense of other important parties, may be based on the perception that the country economy is small, and largely dependent on diamonds, which are known to account for 40% of the national revenues.
This theory overlooks sensitive industries, like the Textile Industry which employs many people and multinationals which are affected directly by the crisis from their countries of origin. So no one cares what the financial status of these companies are.