Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) Chief Executive Officer Maria Machailo-Ellis says the decline in Botswana’s ranking from 76-80/142 in the global competitiveness report, is a clear indication that all areas that affect business in Botswana require critical attention. Machailo-Ellis said the decline itself should be a red alert.
She said setting up a business is still an area that deserves attention and added that online quick applications should be implemented by now and the processing length needs to be shortened. She stated that by implementing e-governance systems, many departmental processes can be improved.
“The retail sector has had major issues with the new trading licensing regulations, where BOCCIM has seen numerous businesses having to suspend operations,” said Machailo-Ellis.
She said the global recession has made it difficult to determine the progress of economic growth as many sectors have been negatively affected by the global financial crisis, adding that, however, growth has been seen in the mining sector, ICT continues to see potential for growth, with new technology advances for business integration and the demand for more refined skills shows the education sector, despite the various challenges it experiences, picking up pace.
She revealed that BOCCIM has recently received a report from its engineering sector that the quality of some imported materials (pertaining to engineering) are not up to par with international standards which result in improper and low quality standard works. She stated that the Government needs to ensure that quality and standardization are actually measured and controlled.
Machailo-Ellis added that the report stipulated that Botswana does not have all industry required physical standards and regulations to ensure traceability of measurements to international standards.
“SMMEs not having finance to improve operations, assets’, acquiring the relevant skills and necessary resources makes it difficult to progress,” said Machailo-Ellis.
“BOCCIM is working in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry on the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD). It is a welcome effort and as long as it is implemented well, it can help businesses prosper. The EDD initiative is aimed at ensuring that local procurement gets priority and will encourage businesses to improve in their product quality, delivery and consistency,” she said.
On the foreign direct investment issue, she said there is need to globally market Botswana to at least make it known that it is a destination seeking potential investors. She added that benchmarking on countries that have successfully attracted investors as well as improving the system of work and residence permits for in demand and unavailable expatriate skills is very important. She said there is also need to improve the cost of doing business in Botswana, by being guided through the global competitiveness report.
“Important to note is that His Excellency upheld the HLCC forum which still remains an important platform for government and the private sector to engage on issues of the economy and business,” said Machailo-Ellis.