Government’s resolve to address issues concerning red tape and unwarranted bureaucracy in consultation with the private sector through the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) in a bid to improving the country’s business environment is a very welcome development.
This is especially so given the driving role that President Ian Khama, as the chief executive officer of the country, has assumed.
Red tape and unwarranted bureaucracy has impacted negatively on Botswana business and economic development. Potential investors wanting to do business in this country have frequently endured a lot of unnecessary delays in setting up businesses to the extent that some eventually looked elsewhere for opportunities.
This has effectively deprived Botswana of the much needed foreign investment as well as domestic investment that could have gone a long way in alleviating our already too high unemployment levels.
We commend President Khama for opening up and inviting BOCCIM and the private sector in conjunction with the relevant ministries to compile a comprehensive list on issues of red tape and bureaucracy for timely resolution.
That the president found it fitting to tackle the issues of red tape and unwarranted bureaucracy head on is by all standards quite commendable because for too long this country has failed to diversify its economy away from mining, especially diamonds.
Botswana has lost a lot of investment opportunities as potential investors were made to wait too long before their applications are processed and given licenses to start operations. In most cases, the turnaround time for processing applications has, to say the least, been unbearable.
Addressing a special meeting of the High Level Consultative Council (HLCC) last week, Khama invited comments and suggestions from BOCCIM and the private sector with a view to improving government service delivery to the public and implored the private sector to respond positively to his gesture.
The president also implored the private sector to ensure competent and timely service delivery in the execution of government contracts, adding that government had adopted a position to terminate contracts that failed to deliver to expectations and that such a position is being implemented.
“All such contracts are terminated with attendant penalties and liquidated damages. Government departments and the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board will, on a continuous basis, identify defaulting contractors, whether citizen or foreign, so that they are not considered for award of government contracts in future.
“Let us all together enter into a public and private partnership to improve service delivery in the country on a universal basis. It is, therefore, important that we do all within our capacity to remove impediments to delivery and improve the business environment,” said Khama.
This is indeed wise counsel coming from the Head of State. The attitude of business as usual is not taking our country and economy anywhere. The business as usual attitude is in fact impeding development.
It is our ardent hope that the private sector and the relevant government ministries and departments will heed the president’s wise counsel.
It is not an exaggeration that there is a lot of complacency on both the private sector and government departments in terms of service delivery. There is absolutely no sense of urgency. This is not right. We need to turn the tide, and urgently for that matter.
Often times projects are not completed on time and schedule thereby incurring unnecessary cost overruns. This is a huge cost to the tax payer which should be avoided at all costs.
In some instances, contractors, both citizen and foreign owned deliver sub-standard work that compels government to re-tender for the same works at additional cost. Government should tighten screws and unwaveringly take to task these defaulting contractors who are taking the public for a ride.
Botswana is still reeling from the effects of the global recession and it is incumbent upon all of us (government and the private sector) to ensure that every single penny invested yields a return. There is great need for return on our investments and gone should be the tendency of business as usual attitude.
At this time of globalization, Botswana businesses should be able to place themselves at a competitive advantage to compete with the best in the world. Instead of relying on government tenders, the private sector should be able to penetrate regional and international markets for self-sustenance and survival.
Government has been gradually reducing its involvement in the business sphere and it is only appropriate that the private sector occupies that space optimally. The private sector should gear itself into the driving force of the economy while government continues to provide a conducive business environment.