The controversial but impending privatization of the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) is calculated to attract potential local and outside investors, observed the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology.
Though the impending privatization of parastatal institutions is deemed in some circles to breed negative results, the Communications, Science and Technology minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moiotoi, is adamant the corporation is heading in the right direction towards privatization.
At the acceptance of the 2007 BTC annual financial audit report and accounts commissioned on Tuesday at the ministry’s headquarters, Venson-Moitoi acknowledged the annual report and accounts had received recognition and endorsement from the financial fraternity and the private sector despite the challenging times attributed to the privatization process.
“The BTC annual report for the financial year that ended on March 31, 2007 has been recognized by Price Waterhouse Coopers, a reputable international firm of auditors and public accounts in conjunction with the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Manpower (BOCCIM) as the best of them all during its annual price giving ceremony held on November 26, 2007.
The corporation improved on that performance by winning the best published annual report and accounts overall award. They have won the award for the second time in a row,” Venson Moitoi, under whose portfolio the corporation falls, revealed.
She added, “Both these reports have been produced during a challenging phase in the life of the corporation. I am sure all of us here are aware of the impending privatization, looming staff rationalization and the intense competition in the telecommunications market.”
The government’s decision to privatize parastatal institutions has lately stirred controversy amongst the public and the opposition parties alike with the latter protesting the process would render many Batswana jobless. Opposition parties argued the process would benefit those with the financial muscle at the expense of the poor. Amid the outcry, the government attempted the later aborted Air Botswana privatization which saw the ruling BDP backbenchers joining the bandwagon in protest against the bidding of the airliner to SA Airlink.
They described the bidding as unfair and unprocedural since it favoured SA Airlink against other competitors.
Thus MPs across the political divide protested against the Air Botswana privatization arguing the bidding was being stage-managed to favour Airlink.
The privatization of Air Botswana is now on indefinite hold pending a fair and transparent privatization dispensation.
That notwithstanding, the communications minister persisted that ‘the annual report and accounts is the key document for investors when they are assessing whether to participate in a business in terms of investment and shareholding or otherwise.’
“Therefore, this endorsement by the financial fraternity signifies the highest standard of presenting information, transparency and disclosure to the shareholder, the Botswana government, and other stakeholders and indeed to potential investors as we prepare BTC for privatization.”
She not only commended BTC chief executive officer, Vincent Seretse, and the BTC management for a job well done but also for the keenness and devotion in adequately preparing the institution for privatization, a process which she described demands the highest model of precision and meticulousness.
“Such an achievement and backing will allow possible investors the opportunity to make informed decisions about our business.
This award is, therefore, a measure of excellence that was not conferred upon BTC by interested stakeholders, such as my ministry, but by an independent international firm of auditors and public accountants. I encourage you to continue with your standard of financial reporting in which you have proved that BTC is a pacesetter.”