President Lt General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama on Monday argued for steps to be taken to stimulate productivity to overcome the challenges currently facing the country.
Officially opening the 14th National Business Conference hosted by Botswana Business in Francistown on Monday, he said if all workers become productive, they would produce more wealth which leads to greater availability of resources for saving, investment and jobs.
“I would like to make it categorically clear that in talking about productivity I am not singling out factory workers. I am referring to all workers in the economy from the unskilled to the Chief Executive Officer,” he said.
President Khama said that although the government monetary authorities will continue to adopt and ensure low, stable inflation and a flexible foreign exchange regime, labour productivity is seen as the most sustainable route to low and stable inflation. He also said labour productivity encourages businesses to plan their investment decisions prudently. He further said that although Botswana has been performing very well in the last 50 years in the management of the economy, the country needs to set its sights on another fifty years of a positive socio-economic trajectory that will give impetus to transformation towards a vibrant, diverse and resilient high income economy.
“For our part as government we will continue to maintain and improve our policies and the regulatory framework. We have been consistent as government in our view that the private sector has a central role in our pursuit of economic transformation. We firmly believe that the business of producing goods and services through meaningful and productive utilization of our natural endowments, information and technology, human capital as well as entrepreneurial capabilities can best be handled by the private sector,” he said.
He said as part of efforts to diversify the economy, the government initiated the Economic Diversification Drive in 2010 to primarily accelerate economic diversification which had proved to be a challenge since independence. He reminded the participants that through this initiative government leverages on its purchasing power through the use of preference margins to promote the production and consumption of locally produced goods and services.
“The value of cumulative total purchase since inception in 2010 amount to P22 billion. Out of this figure, the value of purchases from local manufacturers and service and service providers is P11billion. There is certainly scope to do more. A total of 1 625 enterprises have so far been registered. These companies have created 44 337 jobs,” said the President.
Amongst other important issues, he said government is also facilitating the use of locally manufactured building and road construction material by contractors in all Economic Stimulus Projects. To date, he said 74 local based manufacturers of building and road construction materials have been registered in the Roads, Building and Construction Manufacturers Database. President Khama said assessments are being undertaken to ascertain their capacity and capabilities to produce the required materials in the right quantities and quality. He said these companies offer great potential in government pursuit for employment creation.
“We will also promote effective business regulations and private property rights to ensure that businesses are not hobbled by excessive regulations and red tape. In this regard, government is implementing a Doing Business Reforms Roadmap and Action plan with a view to addressing administrative, legal and structural bottlenecks,” he said.
He also said in a quest to further modernize the economy and to position it as a global competitor, the government will open up the provision of public utilities such as water and power, as well as delivery of road infrastructure projects to private capital. In this regard President Khama said the government has taken the initiative to strengthen the capacity of its Public Private Partnership (PPP) structures such that the “PPP” model can tap in the discipline that the market brings in respect to delivering projects within budget and time.
The National Business Conference was held under the theme, “Botswana at fifty; “Celebrating success and strengthening the public private sector partnership for sustained prosperity.”