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Fast tract tourism policies – Dr Matsheka

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HATAB Chairperson, Dr Thapelo Matsheka Source:The Midweek Sun

Chairperson of the Executive Committee for Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB), Dr Thapelo Matsheka is appealing for the fast tracking of the revision of policies and legislative instruments that have either been overtaken by events or are now impediments to the development of the tourism industry.

Dr Matsheka was speaking at the 2018 Hatab Annual Conference in Maun last week. Among the pieces of legislature that Dr Matsheka sighted are the Tourism Policy of 1991, Tourism Master-Plan of 2000, Wildlife and National Parks Act, Environment Impact Assessment Act and Regulations, as well as other related documents.

“These need to be modernised as they are the necessary tools needed to enable the industry to meet customer expectations in the modern world,” he said.
Matsheka is worried that failure to bring them in line with modern and new ways of doing business has contributed to the lack of diversification of products offering and in the ultimate, slowed the necessary job creation opportunities.

He said Botswana continues to be behind in the provision of up to date statistics in the tourism sector and this makes it difficult for potential investors to assess current market status and future growth potential. “Those that have already invested are also affected, as it is difficult to make expansion plans,” Dr Matsheka said, adding that it is important that concerted efforts are made to bring the above to date, and be able to empower those that have the mandate to attract investors into tourism, with the necessary tools to do so.

Dr Matsheka further said government also needs to continuously assess and openly discuss new initiatives with industry players. “As HATAB, we have aired our concerns on the government unilateral increase on participation fees at Travel Market Fairs,” he said, adding that they are confident that the national basket will also benefit through industry participation at fairs through increased visits to Botswana and in the ultimate, taxation received through company collections.

HATAB is concerned by the recent decision by the government to withdraw its membership from the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa RETOSA, a subsidiary of SADC without consultation with industry partners. Dr Matsheka says surprisingly, this decision was taken at the time that Botswana was elected by RETOSA to the office of Chairperson.

The decision, according to Dr Matsheka was taken while the country is actively participating in other regional efforts to promote regional integration in the SADC region. HATAB further gave government a challenge to continue to ensure that the environment in Botswana remains healthy for private sector participation, and that all policies are aligned.

“We also call upon authorities to align all issues pertaining to concessions and their renewal and or allocation. We have noted that there is increasing delay in processing such application, and when processed, industry often notes that there is inconsistency in the conditions of operation,” Dr Matsheka said. For instance, some are given automatic renewal while others are subjected to a tender process at the end of their tenure. “All this, casts uncertainties on investor confidence as well as creating a perceived preferential treatment of some over others.”

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BSE upgrades online investor access

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A recent BSE opening bell function.

Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) will this year introduce a new clearing and settlement system, as part of efforts to improve operations of the bourse.

Speaking at the seventh opening bell ceremony, Chief Executive Officer, Thapelo Tsheole said the development will help improve liquidity and risk management. In addition, the new settlement system replaces the 2008 system while fast tracking introduction of security borrowing and lending, management settlement guarantee fund, as well as identifiers for companies and instrument.

BSEL has already awarded a contract to a Swedish company to implement the system which is also expected to digitalize Initial Public Offering (IPO), allow electronic voting for listed companies during annual general meetings (AGM) for absent shareholders.

The project, which is expected to take eight months once the two parties sign the deal, is part of efforts to have more online investors access for BSEL. Tsheole also revealed that BSEL website will undergo a revamp this year, allowing it to be more analytic, live feed shares, as they trade.“The tender is already out for the website and mobile application. It is a project that we had hoped to implement last year but because of logistic problems, we could not do it,” said Tsheole.

BSEL further plans to introduce two data display screens at CBD and at the stock exchange.“These will assist with information sharing and keep the market updated,” said Tsheole. Meanwhile, BSEL will not change its Automated Trading System (ATS) until 2022, according to Tsheole.“The system supports our strategy to grow the market and increase the average daily turnover levels to 18.0million per day by 2021,” said Tsheole.

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BSE complies with reporting guidelines

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Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) has become the 5th bourse in Africa to comply and publish Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting guidelines.

The development comes a year after BSEL became a partner exchange of the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchange (SSE) Initiative.“The BSE made a commitment to publish guidance on ESG Reporting. This commitment has been fulfilled.“

We are the 42nd among the 81 SSE Partner Exchanges globally and the 5th in Africa to do this,” said Kgotla Segwe, Market Development Specialist at Botswana Stock Exchange Limited.
Other stock exchanges that have complied with the SSE initiative on the continent are from South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco and Egypt.

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