Friday, December 4, 2020

Ministry of Trade disorganized to deliver on its mandate

Government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), has failed to provide an all-inclusive planning platform leading to uncoordinated decisions which resulted in poor implementation of strategies and programmes, with implications that go beyond just Botswana’s national economy.

Worse still, even at the internal level the Ministry could not put its own house in order to be able to deliver on their mandate and to cope with the challenges emanating from their pursuit.
To highlight the gravity of the problem, a recent audit report of the Auditor General pointed out that the restructuring of the Ministry was done without taking into consideration the processes re-engineering which could have assisted them to streamline their processes, which would have enhanced efficiency in providing for customer satisfaction.

For example, it was stated that whilst the Ministry carried out the restructuring exercise in a manner that was constructive there were indications that the process was delayed long enough to impact adversely on the national budget.

“In essence, the re-organization was supposed to inform the restructuring of the Ministry,” the report posited.

The Ministry had to re-organize itself to improve its institutional and organizational efficiency to better address the needs of clients.

It was discovered that MTI carried out this exercise in an amicable way such that relevant duties were aligned and irrelevant ones shed off. Furthermore, the Ministry was able to adopt and adapt new roles.

“In effect, the re-organization resulted in the establishment of some parastatals like Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) and Botswana Exports Development and Investment Agency (BEDIA).
LEA was responsible for small enterprise development whilst the latter was charged with diversifying and expanding the economy through sound investment strategies,” the Auditor General explained.

Despite the effort at eliminating the duplication of functions performed by both LEA and BEDIA, shortfalls in the re-organization in which the Small Business Council (SBC) and LEA existed simultaneously, were noted by the Auditor General.

The two organizations, according to the audit, operated under almost similar functions from April 2007 until July 2008 when SBC was eventually dissolved to allow LEA to perform functions it previously did. That translated into double budget for one major function for at least 16 months.
With respect to MTI’s internal fabric, “The performance review information from the MTI could not give a clear picture of the performance of the Ministry to assist in making informed decisions on the progression of the Ministry’s activities,” said the Auditor General.

Neither could MTI manage to develop a database of skills and competencies it required to effectively support and advance capacities in its roles and structures.

Interestingly, the review of records at the MTI revealed that the activities undertaken were not properly documented to reflect the human resources deployed, budget allocations, commencement dates of those activities and the progression levels.

“Had the documentation been properly done, it would have assisted to assess actual time variations from the initial planned dates,” queried the Auditor General.

It has also emerged that the Ministry had not formulated and reviewed relevant trade policies in a timely manner as it took 3 to 5 years to come up with new policies and to review existing ones.
This in the view of the Auditor General belied the projected picture by Government, of the much talked about and envisaged diversification and integration into the global markets.

In the final analysis, the performance review information turned up the audit of the MTI could not give a clear picture of the performance of the Ministry to assist in making informed decisions on the progression of the Ministry’s activities.

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