Leader of the Opposition, Dumelang Saleshando, has told parliament that up until Botswana has a law on citizen economic empowerment then the proposed policy on economic empowerment is but a piece of paper to fill a gap.
Speaking in parliament this week while contributing to the debate on the policy on Citizen Economic Empowerment, the BCP leader said that the policy was not something done out of a strong political desire.
He said the idea of introducing a policy on empowering citizens was adopted some 10 years ago and only for the policy to be brought to parliament now.
He said that there is no political will to empower citizens.
Saleshando said that the proposal does not come close to resolving the disparity between citizens and non-citizens, adding that non-citizens were major beneficiaries of Botswana’s economic boom.
“One needs to appreciate the magnitude of the problem…citizens are observers in their own economy. Citizens get 17 percent of tender by value from government while non citizens get 78 percent,” he said.
Saleshando added that besides tenders, citizen entrepreneurs were unable to get money from banks while a lot of foreign businesses enjoyed a lot of credit facility from local banks.
“Botswana is world champion in terms of inequalities….clearly we just want to fill a gap,” he stated.
According to the Gaborone Central legislator, if Botswana is looking to make strides like big economies, such as Singapore and Malaysia, then the proposed policy is better off scrapped because it will not take the country anywhere.
He criticized the policy for what he termed a series of ‘non committal statements’.
Saleshando said that the government owned company, the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), has not been aggressive in pioneering citizen economic empowerment.
He pointed out that even some companies that government has shares in do not support citizens. The MP cited Debswana mining company, which he said procured all its equipment from big business outside Botswana.
“We need laws that support citizen economic empowerment,” Saleshando said.
He said that the policy was just another ‘Vision 2016′.
Saleshando also expressed some reservations that the policy being the brainchild of the ministry of Finance and Development Planning would be implemented by the ministry of Trade and Industry.
He said that the institutional arrangements over the implementation of the policy was an anomaly
He said it was amazing that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government did not have a target for Citizen Economic Empowerment.
“….but am sure they have a target as to how many blankets they want to distribute this year.”