In the process of identifying issues stifling the competitiveness of the country, the select committee working on improving business environment, the National Doing Business Committee (NDBS), has been urged not to overlook the role played by the private sector in building a competitive nation.
Since its establishment last year, the committee has made progress in terms of policy reforms and other initiatives intended to improve the country’s economic performance ranking. However, loopholes in policy reforms and initiatives have been identified by the different stakeholders and the committee has encouraged the committee to rectify.
“Government officials simply do not understand what role is played by the private sector,” said Dr Keith Jefferis, managing director of Econsult Botswana.
He said a change of mindset on the part of the government is very important if the business environment in the country has to change.
“Government officials simply don’t understand what is private sector and what it means,” he said “Government and private sector are supposed to work together not to sabotage one another.”
He encouraged the committee to look into the challenges people are faced with in payment of taxes.
“We are caught up in the long queues paying taxes which are very costly,” said Jefferis, adding that parastatals like Botswana Unified Revenues Services (BURS) should look into introducing online payment of taxes.
Jefferis urged the Doing Business Committee to identify the bottlenecks and come up with solutions, adding that reorientation of mindset is a long process.
“We need enterprising mindsets in the government officials; Permanent secretaries, directors, CEO’s to talk of good business environment,” said Oabona Kgengwenyane, Managing Director of InnoLead Consulting and X-Pert Group.
Kgengwenyane said the way we do business should not be like we are managing politics. He emphasised the role played by the private sector in improving the business climate in the country.
Kgengwenyane bemoaned government failure to implement its policies. “Issue of implementation of the policies should be at high level to see the expected results,” he said.
Additionally, he criticised the delay in the tendering system saying, “We apply for tenders and it takes the government departments 6 months to respond, something that can be done in 2 months.”
“We should change our mindsets because we have the new systems but it looks like things are getting worse,” said Kgengwenyane.
Comments on the role of politicians and opposition parties sprung up, with the politicians being encouraged to play in improving the business environment and to be involved.
In addition the committee was urged not to expedite doing business across borders in their attempt to improve the situation.
However, Boniface Mpetlhe, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Industry, acknowledged that government was doing badly on privatisation and needed to address that urgently. In addition, he said the challenge faced on acquiring work permits by expatriates is in the process of being addressed by the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs.