Tuesday, October 20, 2020

‘Positive budget and opportunities for the private sector’- BOCCIM

The Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) says it appreciates the balanced approach and encourages Government to continue to absorb the private sector’s expertise in addressing some of the economic challenges, and identify opportunities for sustainable economic and social development.

BOCCIM Chief Executive Officer, Maria Machailo-Ellis, told Sunday Standard that BOCCIM is concerned about the implementation of the privatization master plan. She said as private sector they believe that privatisation has taken too long, and added that the revision of the plan will cause further delay in implementation.

According to Machailo Ellis, BOCCIM has reiterated on numerous occasion its concern about policy implementation. She said that they see it befitting for the budget to be utilized as a tool for updates on policy initiatives, such as the CEE, youth unemployment and how the private sector will play in regional markets. She further stated that it is important to reflect the stages of implementation of the National Development Plan and other initiatives geared towards economic and social development.

“BMC has started an initiative to help Batswana who want to sell their cattle. Private farmers should be allowed to directly market and sell their cattle; this will assist in diversification and open up markets,” she explained.

Machailo-Ellis observed that five percent wage bill reduction over the next three years is a strategic move. She also stated that BOCCIM looks forward to the framework and detailed strategy for its effective rollout.

“We trust that this will be done in a manner that is consistent with capacitating the private sector such that job opportunities also open up in the private sector,” she said.

Machailo-Ellis further observed that the development budget allocation towards power, water and the Kazungula Bridge broadly makes sense for good economic infrastructure and is a credible cost benefit. She stated that that, however, BOCCIM is concerned about the allocation towards rural roads which at this point in time cannot deliver economic benefit. She said BOCCIM has been assertive when proposing green alternative energy solutions; therefore it is surprising to see no mention of a move for private sector to take the lead and be key players in the energy sector.

“It is evident that the SACU windfall of P2.5 billion assisted during this global financial challenging time, to create a positive balance. However the Ministers forecast of declining mineral revenues to be lower than that of the previous year, reflects a gloomy state of the world economy, and this is what we essentially need to be prepared for,” said Machailo-Ellis.

On the issue of the e-governance, Machailo-Ellis said allocation of e-governance is good example of targeted and prioritized allocation given the current constraints.

She said clearly more funds will be needed to achieve a fully integrated ICT solution for government, which she said is also essential for business progression. She stated that more particularly it is important that this project is completed at the earliest, because due to the vastness of our country, its completion will greatly assist remotely located businesses in accessing government and other centrally located facilities and business opportunities.

“The budget seemed positive and has opportunities for the private sector. It was hoped that more focus would be given to youth employment, citizen empowerment and SMME stimulation,” she said.

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