Botswana’s business community, through the Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) has condemned the government of Botswana for a budget that does not take cognisance of the need for the private sector to become the engine of the country’s economic growth.
In a statement released today and responding to the 2015/16 budget speech, BOCCIM chief executive officer, Maria Machailo-Ellis said while they appreciate government’s proclamation of the private sector as the engine of economic growth, wealth creation and employment, the business community was greatly concerned by the bureaucratic inertia and its negative impact on the business environment, economic growth and employment creation.
“BOCCIM is disappointed by the gulf between proclaiming the private sector as the engine of growth and the impediments that those in business have to contend with regularly,” she said.
BOCCIM highlighted a number of transformational issues that impede business but were not dealt with decisively in the 2015/16 Budget speech, among them the arbitrary rejections of work and residence permits for skilled people, which creates uncertainty and undermines the private sector’s ability to expand and create jobs.
BOCCIM also expressed concern about a myriad of levies imposed by government, which add to the costs of doing business. The business community also faulted government for its failure to implement electronic government (e-government) as a transformational tool for doing business in Botswana.
It also expressed concern about the floundering manufacturing sector which has been greatly affected by low productivity.
In its response to the budget speech, BOCCIM said it expected government to outline steps that will be taken to resolve the problem of low productivity and work ethic in Botswana. BOCCIM also complained about delays in implementation of policies and projects and cited government’s silence on the Tourism Policy and Private Public Partnerships (PPPSs).
However, BOCCIM described the 2014/15 budget speech as aspirational, saying it struck the right high level notes especially the identification of key economic sectors such as tourism, beef, diamond and mining. BOCCIM also appreciated the proposed expenditure on essential infrastructure such as optical fibre, upgrading of airports and improvement of roads, saying these will enhance Botswana’s economic competitiveness.