FRANCISTWON – As the country braces itself for the Botswana 50 years independence celebrations, the Governor of Bank of Botswana, Linah Mohohlo says that the celebrations should not cloud the country’s economic challenges which are currently taking a disturbing twist.
Speaking during a Bank of Botswana cocktail dinner held to welcome guests for the 14th Biennial National Business Conference in Francistown last week, she said that although Botswana has made some significant strides over the past 50 years, its economy currently sits in a dangerous position.
“We should make no mistake, while the 50th Anniversary of Independence is a great source of pride, and celebrated as such, the development of the economy has reached a critical juncture, as indicated by the slowing pace of economic growth, chronic unemployment and mounting pressure on government budget. Effectively addressing these challenges will be key to the successful implementation of the National Development Plan 11 and looking further ahead, vision 20136,” she said.
She said there is need to share views on how to better chart the course of sustainable private sector led growth that the country so urgently needs. She also said there is need for creation of productive employment opportunities necessary for not only alleviating poverty and fostering inclusive growth, but also for making the transition to high income status on a sustained basis. Touching on the NBC theme “Botswana at 50, Celebrating Success and Strengthening the Public-Private Sector Partnership for Sustained Prospertiy,” she said the theme underpins the realization that, in as much as mineral resources have served the country well over nearly 50 years particularly diamonds, these resources are non-renewable.
“Indeed after attaining the middle income status, the next stage of the country’s development will need to be driven by efficiency and innovation. It is these twin pillars of efficiency and innovation that will enable the country to compete at regional and global levels,” she said.
Mohohlo also said there is need to address the challenges of implementing large projects that will be key in finding long term solutions to the power, water and other infrastructure challenges that constrain opportunities for private sector development in the country. She also said there is need to focus on issues of competitiveness and as well as how an enabling environment need for businesses to prosper can effectively be in place. She also said that it is important to focus on undertaking a collaborative public-private sector effort of regulatory reforms that are well adapted to the needs of business.
“It is just as important to focus on how to boost productivity and job creation, for instance by moving people from unemployment and under employment into productive employment. This is fundamental and would impact directly to sustained improvement in living standards of the populace,” Mohohlo said.
The governor further said that it is equally important to consider how best to promote trust between public and private sector entities, since this will be crucial in developing and implementing mutually beneficial public-private partnerships.
Among other important issues she said it is important to be alert to current and prospective dynamics in the global and regional economies that would impact on Botswana. She said the recent decision by the United Kingdom (UK) to withdraw from the European Union (EU) is a case in point. Mohohlo said although its impact is yet to unfold, there is growing uncertainty.
“Similarly the consequances of the 2007/2008 financial crisis linger on this day. Interest rates in major financial markets are at historic low levels and in some cases they are negative;global economic growth remains anemic; and the search for an inclusive global financial architecture and macroeconomic governance that gave so much hope, appears to have receded.
In conclusion she however said that much has been achieved in the last half century and Batswana have reason to celebrate and be proud after all.