Tuesday, October 19, 2021

F’town Council extends olive branch to manufacturing sector

Commonly known for its struggles the manufacturing sector has secured a victory after the City of Francistown heeded its call to revise requirements for a tender it floated on behalf of the Civil and Mechanical engineering services department as the procuring department. When the City of Francistown invited bidders for the supply and delivery of cold asphalt premix manufacturers did not stand a chance of participating in the bidding process because of the exclusion of the manufacturers’ code (213, sub code 7) as a condition to bid. 

This changed last week when President of Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association (BEMA) Nkosi Mwaba informed this publication that the association, which includes members actively involved in manufacturing, processing, value addition activities, or providing service related to manufacturing and processing, successfully convinced the Francistown Council to revise the tender conditions.   

“We are happy to announce that BEMA has successfully negotiated with the City of Francistown Council to consider including the manufacturers’ code (213, sub code 7) in the tender for “SUPPLY AND DELIVERY OF COLD ASPHALT PREMIX FOR THE CITY OF FRANCISTOWN COUNCIL. The tender had originally not included the manufacturer’s code thereby closing them out. The City of Francistown Council is in the process of extending the tender submission deadline to cater for the above subject,” wrote Mwaba. 

The closing time for the tender had initially been set for May 26, 2017. However, the date was pushed forward to accommodate the inclusion of the manufacturers’ code. The tender was originally open to companies with operations in Botswana owned 100 percent by Batswana and registered with the Public Procurement and Asset disposal Board (PPADB) under the code 211 (General suppliers), sub code 19 (Hardware Tools and Construction Materials).  The tender had initially been determined to run until March 31, 2018 from the date of signing as a frame work contract.    

In light of the insurmountable challenges that the manufacturing sector contends the successful inclusion of the manufacturers’ code is a small achievement but BEMA considers this effort as a building block that will spur the growth and sustainability of the sector in the long run. Perhaps what gives this victory an air of importance is that the sector is generally still battling to tap into government’s purchasing power to use as a lever to promote consumption and production of locally produced goods and services. The Francistown Council tender therefore demonstrates the difficulty of the sector in promoting local consumption. Consumption of local goods and services is the ambition of the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) programme which was established in 2010 but to date the manufacturing sector still grapples with realising the programme’s goal. By government opening up a market for local producers it presents the opportunity to reduce the import bill which remains at an alarming high rate. BEMA requested revision of tender on the basis of the EDD directive to which it urged the Francistown Council to take into consideration. The 2014 Presidential Directive encourages government procuring departments to buy goods and services produced locally provided that such items are available, competitively priced, meet quality standards and can be reliably supplied. The Directive was introduced in line with section 68 of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act (PPADB) which stipulates that: “All procuring or disposing entities shall, when preparing bidding packages or briefs, or evaluating bid proposals, comply with the provisions of this Act in respect of reservation and preference schemes which might be in place from time to time.”  

“We commend the Francistown City Council officials for their indulgence, understanding and effort towards addressing this issue and helping to empower the manufacturing sector in Botswana. With this spirit we are on the right path to achieving growth, employment creation and diversification.  I would like to call upon all other stakeholders and procuring entities to follow the same lead as we have a number of similar cases on our table,” Mwaba expressed. 

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