Executives of private businesses and heads of interested departments from government ministries are expected to converge at Francistown in the next two weeks, 26-29 September 2010, under the auspices of the 11th national business conference.
This year’s conference, an eleventh two year interval event, initiative of BOCCIM will be co-hosted by the organisation in collaboration with government under the theme, “Deepening Diversification through Private Sector Leadership”.
Maria Machailo-Ellis told the Sunday Standard that, “The rationale behind the theme the recognition of the need to broaden the economic base, in anticipation of the decline in diamond production from 2010 onwards.”
One way of bracing up for that challenge, according to Machailo-Ellis, was to explore ways and alternatives in the context of diversification and strengthening the leadership as well as redefining the role of the private sector in relation to the concomitant tasks.
An argument has been made that, while economic diversification has been at the centre of the government policy framework for at least two decades, the absolute dependence of business on government expenditure coupled with the state’s excessive spending, makes the whole idea a non starter.
On that basis, Dr. Keith Jefferies, an Economist and Consultant with Econsult, who admitted to preparing a concept paper for the NBC has said, “A further concern is that even if the growth of the non-mining private sector has been reasonable, if not spectacular, it should matter whether it’s being driven by government.”
To highlight the significance of the occasion, President Ian Khama has been invited as the number one guest of business, both with a prominent South African official, Bobby Godsell, who is the Chairperson of Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), representative of about 70 large, public and private companies in S.A.
Godsell was also appointed by President Jacob Zuma to that country’s National Planning Commission (NPC).
“So you can see that it is an indispensible event that not only adds value to the private sector but to the country’s development as well,” added Machailo-Ellis.
She further indicated that BOCCIM stood for dialogue between private and public sectors, and that most of the adopted at the NBC have always attested in one way or the other to the success of that constructive engagement process.
Jefferies has made reference in his concept paper to the issue of the size of the civil service as a factor that also militates against growth of the private sector.
In that respect, his position was vindicated by a recent report of the World Bank which even queried the planning and budget systems used by government for what it claimed amounted to “expanding” the civil service.
Over and above resolving on important ideas such as the establishing a sovereign wealth fund which should invest in a wide range of assets to generate a future source of income, along the lines of Temasek (Singapore), conference will aim to draw up a set of recommendations for both government and private sector.