Minister of Trade and Industry (MTI) Vincent Seretse last week proposed a budget of P946, 383, 410 for his ministry’s development and recurrent expenditures in the financial year 2015/16. The proposed budget is an increase of 4.6 percent from the budget proposal for the year 2014/15.
From the proposed allocation, P925,383,410 will be used to finance operations at MTI’s departments and parastatals, among them Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS), Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), Competition Authority (CA) and Local Enterprise Authority (LEA).
P345m will be allocated to CEDA in FY 2015/16. As at end of January 2015, CEDA had financed 248 projects valued at P232.6m. 146 of these were services sector projects, valued at P117.7m. CEDA also financed 70 agribusiness projects to the tune of P79.8m and 32 property and manufacturing projects to the tune of P35.1m.
Seretse also proposed P149.2m for LEA, which is currently implementing its new three year strategy (2014-2017). The Authority commenced its rapid incubation project in October 2014, with the aim of supporting SMME development in marketing, credit acquisition, technology and information. At full implementation, the project is expected to promote industrial diversification, youth empowerment, employment creation, product value addition and poverty eradication. LEA has also initiated entrepreneurship awareness workshops targeted at secondary school leavers, brigade and vocational training institution students as a way of inculcating a culture of entrepreneurship among Batswana.
BITC will receive P111, 726,320 in FY 2015/16. The corporation continues to support local companies to export goods and services to foreign markets in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Europe. From April 2014 to January 2015, BITC generated export revenue amounting to P1.16bn mainly from exporting products like salt and soda ash, tobacco extracts, re-rolled steel and electrical cables. The largest exports were to South Africa and Europe.
The Registrar of Companies and Intellectual Property has been moved to the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA), a new parastatal that was established to promote and enable full protection of the rights of investors and right holders obtained under the Companies Act, Registration of Business Names Act, Industrial Property Act and Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act. CIPA is expected to be an effective, efficient and self sustaining organisation that will enhance operational processes of doing business in Botswana. The new parastatal has already concluded recruitment for key positions. In February, CIPA disbursed P2.2m from the Levy on Technical Devices Fund to three beneficiary projects in the film and literary industry. Seretse proposed P26, 788, 20 to CIPA for FY 2015/16.
MTI has also budgeted P21m for its development budget, P3m of which will go towards computerisation of the ministry. As part of the project, the business licensing and permit module has already been rolled out to councils in Gaborone, Mahalapye, South East District and Kweneng for issuance of trading and liquor license. Plans are at an advanced stage to facilitate issuance of manufacturing licenses at the areas as well. MTI has also allocated P14m for two consultancy projects; Botswana Economic Diversification and Competitiveness Programme (P10m) and a feasibility study for the leather park project (P4m). The ministry has also budgeted P16m to construct a leather park project with a common effluent treatment plant. The project is expected to start during the current financial year after completion of its feasibility study.
MTI is also undertaking a review of the Consumer Protection Act to facilitate greater institutional emphasis on consumer welfare and reduce the opportunity for business to deny customers the benefit of competitive markets. The Liquor Act is also being reviewed to address some deficiencies. The Trade Act will also be amended to implement recommendations of the Doing Business Reform Roadmap for Botswana.