Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Trade Ministry pushes for economic diversification and citizen empowerment

Government continues to come up with new reforms aimed at improving the business environment with a view to ensuring that Botswana becomes globally competitive, officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) have revealed.

When presenting before the public accounts committee (PAC) on Wednesday, Permanent Secretary, Banny Molosiwa, said her Ministry, together with the National Strategy Office, has embarked on an exercise to develop a doing business reforms roadmap and action plan, following Cabinet’s approval in principle of the high level reforms. Consultations are currently being concluded on the implementation plan. She added that the plan details whether the reforms are administrative or legal as well as the lead agencies and time lines required to implement the reforms.

Molosiwa added that the Ministry continues to engage with relevant government agencies on their implementation of citizen economic empowerment (CEE) in order to guide and coordinate their programmes. She added that a consultative workshop was held with various stakeholders in June 2013 for them to understand the policy and their role in its implementation.

“This Ministry is further engaging with various government departments to guide them to package their citizen economic empowerment schemes and report back on a quarterly basis,” she said.

On the economic diversification drive (EDD), Molosiwa said the Ministry of Trade’s efforts to accelerate diversification of the economy through EDD are bearing fruit. She added that as part of on-going efforts to promote production and consumption of locally produced goods and services, there has been an increasing trend on recorded purchases of services. She said EDD enterprises, on the other hand, require capacity building, which is done through the enterprise competitiveness framework, under which enterprises are assisted to grow through mentoring and financial assistance.

“Our mandate is to create a conducive environment for the development of sustainable industries and trade with a view to diversifying and growing the economy in order to create wealth and employment, so that the lives of Batswana can be improved,” said Molosiwa.

Since the inception of EDD in 2010, a cumulative figure of P14 billion worth of goods and services were purchased through the program. The figure for the financial year 2013/2014 is P3.7 billion. The value of purchases from local manufacturers and service providers since 2010 is over P10 billion while for the 2013/2014 financial year it stands at P2.1 billion. Moreover, since the inception of EDD, a total of 964 enterprises have been issued with EDD certificates comprising 780 (80.91 percent) in the small scale category, 116 (12.03 percent) in the medium scale category, and 68 (7.05 percent) in the large scale category.

However, Molosiwa pointed out that some companies which have been awarded tenders to manufacture products locally still continue to supplement with imports and a limited range of locally manufactured goods and services as well as goods whose quality does not meet tender specifications.
“As reported in the last PAC, implementation of the EDD is still faced with challenges, which include among others continued purchase of imported goods and services by government Ministries and departments, parastatals and the private sector despite sustained public campaigns for EDD,” she said.

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Digital edition of The Telegraph, November 25, 2020.