Government announced this week that the Small Business Council (SBC) has been phased out and its responsibilities taken over by the Local Enterprises Authority (LEA), headed by Dr Thapelo Matome.
Pundits said the move is in line with rationalisation and mergers of government entities that are doing duplicate roles to save government some money.
“Following the amendment of the Small Business Act of 2003 in August 2008, the Act, which established both the Small Business Council (SBC) and the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), the SBC has been phased out and its responsibilities transferred to LEA,” said Banny Molosiwa, Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Molosiwa said the services that used to be provided by SBC are now under the arm pit of LEA, which has a sizeable network of offices around the country.
The two bodies perform similar roles as they are both targeting the upliftment of the status of the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) sector, which employs thousands of Batswana around the country.
According to the LEA website, the authority provides a co-coordinated and focused one-stop shop that provides development and support services to the local industry needs of SMMEs.
It encompasses training, mentoring, business plan finalisation, market access facilitation and facilitation of technology adaptation and adoption.┬á
On the other hand, the SBC is a high level advisory body chaired by a member of the private sector with the SMME sector.
The body draws membership from the government ministries, parastatal bodies and other interests.
The body was established by the Small Business Act and it advises the Minister of Trade on issues pertaining to the development of SMME sector and it commenced operations in 2004. It was recently chaired by trade and agricultural economist, Dr Howard Sigwele.
The move is expected to encourage the stalled merger of 20 parastatals that are said to be costing government over P500 million to run annually.
The Public Enterprises, Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA), a government privatisation advisory body has already drawn its plans on which government entities should be merged and came up with clusters.
This will saves taxpayers money at a time of financial crisis, especially for those enterprises that perform duplicate roles.
Strong cases of merger are that of Tertiary Education Council (TEC), Botswana Examination Council (BEC) and Botswana Training Authority (BOTA) since the three provided similar roles.
There is also a case for International Financial Services Centre (IFSC), Botswana Export Development, Botswana Export Credit Insurance (BECI) and Botswana Tourism Board to merge.
┬áThe four have a role of attracting investors from outside the country, luring investors and providing credit insurance for exporters. ┬á