Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Business seeks Gov’t to grow citizen construction companies

Business Botswana seeks government to introduce an array of radical measures to grow citizen-owned construction companies.

Such measures, the business body proposes, would include among others, establishment of a public oversight body between the private sector and government during the stimulus package.

It also calls for the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) to be reserved for citizen-owned companies for supply chain. Further, it seeks citizen companies to benefit by keeping a database for employment and training. 

In a proposal note, seen by this publication, to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to stimulate the construction industry post Covid19, Business Botswana calls for an economic stimulus package that addresses: economic boost, job creation, capacity building, training skills transfer, private sector growth, procurement processes and construction value chain. 

According to the proposal note, the success of the ESP can be achieved if a harmonised relationship between the private sector and government is created. Both parties will have to commit to ESP diligently. 

The proposal indicates that this could be made highly possible if “the stimulus package budget is availed and detailed; projects are identified from across all ministries; a seamless procurement system is adopted and prequalification system would be optional for contractors in all infrastructure works of any size.”

Also to be achievable, the private sector body added that private sector should be able to avail competent, committed and steadfast citizen companies; availing projects coordination/management guidelines; tangible job creation, upskilling and mentorship in the short term; risk management is undertaken in all projects during the ESP to avert delays and cost overruns. 

COVID-19 has changed the economic environment both domestically and globally, and as a result there has been some adjustment of policy initiatives that will reflect adjusted priorities. 

Nonetheless, Sunday Standard has learnt that Botswana will have no changes in projects approved in the 2020/21 budget by Parliament. 

Responding to this publications’ inquiry, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Dr Wilfred Mandlebe however, indicated that, “due to lost time during lockdown of the economy as well as the revised government revenue outlook, some of the projects planned for the fiscal year may not be executed as originally planned. 

The key challenges and priorities identified in the Mid-Term Review of NDP 11 remain relevant, and the main changes will be adjustments and additions to reflect the new post-COVID-19 realities.

In response to the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, government adopted the COVID-19 Economic Response, which included short-term economic stabilization package, comprising wage subsidies, loan guarantees, provision for deferment of some tax obligations and waiver of the training levy, to ease the impact on businesses and preserve jobs. 

The construction sector is among major beneficiaries of the wage subsidy component of the COVID- 19 Relief Fund.

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