The government of Botswana has been urged to come up with a definite law on citizen economic empowerment because the current status quo puts the population at a disadvantage while unscrupulous foreigners capitalize on the prevailing environment.
Passing the test of standards and requirements, foreign owned companies are free to set up business in the country, thereby suffocating struggling locally owned businesses with their excessive funds and abundant resources. These arguments were tabled by Francistown West Member of Parliament, Ignatius Moswaane in his response to the 2015/16 budget speech on Thursday.
He called for the irregularity occasioned by lack of citizen empowerment laws to come to an end and further challenged government to enact a law demanding 40 percent and 51 percent shared interests among foreigners and locals respectively as a way of avoiding depletion of the country’s natural resources by fly-by-night briefcase entrepreneurs.
“About 99 percent of Botswana’s population is employed by foreign owned companies. To avoid this deplorable situation we should come with definite economic empowerment laws,” Moswaane said.
He said Botswana should take a leaf from Zimbabwe and demand that foreigners should venture into partnership with locals on a 49 percent and 51 percent base arrangement. Moswaane argued that after winning mega multi-million tender projects from government, foreigners go on to compete for space with locals for small time jobs like supply of goods and services.
When presenting the 2015/16 budget speech Monday, Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo reiterated his traditional government stance that inclusive growth cannot be achieved without empowering citizens to play an active role in economic activities.
He reassured the nation that government has made efforts to empower citizens so they can benefit from economic growth. As an example, Matambo cited the amended Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy which makes it mandatory for sub-contractors of government funded projects to be 100 percent citizen owned companies. The policy further stipulates that 30percent of each ministry’s projects budget should be reserved for 100 percent owned companies to promote citizen empowerment. However, Moswaane called for a definite law to replace the policy, saying policies were not binding.