Masisi appears to be hitting the ground running in his new role of driving Botswana’s employment creation agenda. He recently held a meeting with the private sector in a bid to chart the way forward on how the problem of unemployment can be solved.
The meeting was a good starting point in driving the country’s employment creation agenda; and has been hailed as a move in the right direction through which government and the private sector will join forces to create jobs for multitudes of unemployed Batswana. It is an undeniable fact that government alone cannot deliver on the mammoth task of employment creation.
The task can only be realized with full participation of the private sector, which in turn ought to up its game to ensure that high employment levels are drastically reduced. The problem calls on the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) to up its game in helping government to create jobs for multitudes of able bodied Batswana who are currently jobless and failing to fend for themselves and their families.
Addressing the meeting, the Vice-President correctly acknowledged that Botswana is confronted with a socio-economic challenge of great proportions as the largest demography of the small two-million population (19.8 percent) is unemployed.
According to the Botswana AIDS Impact Survey of 2013, youth aged 15 to 35 years are without employment.
Masisi correctly acknowledges that this has indeed proven to be a challenge that “reminds us that our past achievements give us no room for complacency; a challenge that confirms the need for a more sustainable development model where all actors in the economy facilitate growth.” As the main driver of the employment creation agenda, it is the Vice-President’s responsibility in conjunction with local economists is to craft a working model geared towards employment creation.
The Vice-President further observed that this is a challenge that requires both short and long term remedies, brevity and conviction on the part of the captains of industry. Government does not have a monopoly of ideas in resolving this mammoth challenge, as the Vice-President correctly acknowledged. He was right in urging the captains of various industries to begin thinking outside the box. The Vice President further acknowledged that youth unemployment is a global challenge as Botswana, like the rest of the world, is facing a conundrum characterised by high levels of youth unemployment and job seekers without requisite skills.
“Needless to say, government alone cannot create jobs, that era passed post independence. The best that government can and must do is to effectively facilitate the private sector to foster growth. I must underscore that sources must also generate substantial employment, in order to ensure equal access to opportunities by the majority of our population,” said Masisi.
He further revealed that the economic committee of cabinet had adopted recommendations for a diversified export-led economy derived from diamonds, tourism, cattle, mining, financial and other service sectors; which will be based on development of clusters representing different value chains. In order to achieve the employment creation agenda, government has also adopted a suite of reforms to address the many impediments to private sector growth.
Some of the reforms include abolishing pre-permit inspection of premises, limiting the number of licenses and permits, adopting a unique identification number for business, decoupling of tax issues from other activities like construction permit procedures, property registration, liberalization of services and works for power production and supply, outsourcing some state functions to the private sector, improving efficiency in distribution of power, thus decentralizing the management process by allowing clients/applicants to contact the service provider directly, and privatizing state-owned companies as a way of transferring┬á┬áindustrial, technological and managerial know-how into the country.
“Government continues to invest in projects that offer vast opportunities for meaningful private sector participation and potential for job creation. For example, several dams were constructed during the current planning period such as Dikgatlhong, Lotsane and Thune with potential for irrigated agriculture and tourism development. We concede that such opportunities also challenge government, as the facilitator, to be open minded,” said Masisi.
He further appealed to the private sector to enrol a significant number of graduates so as to give them meaningful challenges and tasks.
“Please do your part in giving these young people their first requisite experience for future employment, which will make them more marketable.┬á┬áMake time to mentor them in work place decorum so that they become highly sought after players in the local and global economies,” appealed the Vice-President.
In his onerous task of driving the employment creation agenda, the Vice President called on industry captains to present innovative ideas and creative solutions for economic growth and employment creation.
Delivering his 2015 budget speech, Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo reiterated that government continues to outsource non-core public services to private sector companies as a way of fostering job creation and supporting private sector growth.
Services currently outsourced include grounds maintenance, security and cleaning services. To support Ministries in implementing the outsourcing programme, the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA), in collaboration with the Botswana Public Service College (BPSC), has developed training programmes to build contract management capacity within government.
Furthermore PEEPA developed an integrated facilities management strategy for maintenance of government buildings during the 2013/14 financial year with participation of the private sector. To date, management companies have been engaged by government through the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MISC) to maintain senior secondary schools. The Minister also acknowledged that project implementation remains one of the challenges facing government and that during NDP 10 development budget had been under-spent by an average 17.3 percent for the years 2011/2012 through 2013/14, due to delayed project implementation.
“Even where projects are finally delivered, they are usually characterized by cost overruns and questionable quality. It is against this background that government continues to take measures to improve on project implementation,” said Matambo.
To solve some of the problems, the Minister said the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) is implementing the integrated procurement management system to enhance procurement management, improve transparency and reduce lead times in public procurement. The system further provides a platform for on-line bidding, which includes preparation of procurement plans,┬ágeneration of invitation to tender documents, downloading of documents by contractors, online tender submission as well as online adjudication.
With all these measures at the door step of the private sector, it is incumbent upon the private sector to take full advantage of the initiatives to enhance its competitiveness and help government in creation of the much needed jobs that Batswana are yearning for.