There is little doubt that the Botswana Government has over the years spent an arm and a leg on creating the many State-Owned Entities (SOEs) that today sprawl and dominate the public sector. There is also little doubt that the government as the sole shareholder has also not been able to make desired return on investment on some of the SOEs, if not all.
Perhaps this explains why one of the striking announcements in the 2020/21 national budget speech as read by Finance Minister – Thapelo Matsheka in early February is that a cabinet subcommittee has been set up to undertake a comprehensive review of the landscape of SOEs.
The terms of reference for the subcommittee, which is led by Matsheka are reported to be broad and entails amongst other things reviewing SOEs mandates, governance and performance with a view to propose specific recommendations to government.
“It is important that the mandates of these organisations are repositioned to support the transformation journey”, said Matsheka during his budget speech some three weeks ago.
While Matsheka has not shared the time-frame or deadline dates for this review, his counterpart at Trade – Peggy Serame says she is ready to sacrifice some of the SOEs that falls under her ministry.
“I think we are all in agreement that 60 SOE are definitely not sustainable. The Ministry I work for has 12 currently and I want to tell you Minister Matsheka we will be the first Ministry to start with. We have already engaged at our Ministry retreat that 12 is not sustainable and we already have proposals on how we shall rationalise.”, said Serame in Parliament this past week.
Serame further urged Parliament to speed up the process of reducing number of existing SOEs.
The cabinet subcommittee will review the role of the SOEs in the transformation process along strategic intervention areas such as (i) utility supply (BPC, WUC); (ii) tourism (Botswana Tourism Organisation); (iii) transport (Botswana Railways, Air Botswana); (iv) agriculture (NDB, BMC, BVI, BAMB); (v) ICT and innovation (BTC,
BOFINET, BIH, BITRI); (vi) business development (CEDA, LEA, BDC, BITC); (vii) regulation (BOCRA, NBFIRA, BOBS, BERA, CAAB), and (viii) human capital development (UB, BUAN, BUIST, HRDC, BQA).