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Government struggles with project implementation

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo

Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo said government should look at the implementation exercise to develop the economy. There are many good policies and initiatives by the government that are not implemented while in many cases some ministries return the funds to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

Commenting on the recent budget speech, the trade minister highlighted that government should be more concerned about the delivery of the projects. “The challenge is really not the allocation but the implementation. Year in, year out, we see some funds returned to the Ministry of Finance; we hope this year we will focus more on implementation, monitoring and evaluation,” said Kenewendo.

Government should also allow the private sector to participate in development projects such as infrastructure development. “Government alone can not capitalize everything so the private sector should be allowed to participate in capitalization, designing and building of infrastructure projects,” said Kenewendo, adding that currently the Ministry of Investment Trade and Industry is working on attracting international investors.

Presenting the 2019 Budget speech, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo said government is keen on promoting inclusive growth and equitable distribution of wealth through giving citizens the opportunity to have ownership through privatization of profit making public enterprise. The finance minister also stated that there is need for continuous reform in the business environment especially on issues of work ethics, access to finance and reports of corruption in the country. “These are areas that the country should continue to focus its efforts on, in order to maintain and improve its international economic rankings, “said Matambo.

He noted that the country has already put in place measures to address some of the concerns about doing business in the country, which include the Doing Business Reforms Roadmap, which has been adopted last year. Among the initiatives in the roadmap is the review of some laws such as the Trade Act, Customs Act and Companies Act. However, Matambo said the review of the Trade Act to facilitate the process of starting a business in Botswana will be prioritised during 2019 as it was identified to be a significant challenge.

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Market Street day supports local products

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo has encouraged citizens to promote and support local products thus contributing to employment creation and economic development.

Speaking during the ministry’s Market Street day on Saturday, the trade minister said the ministry came up with the initiative to expose local products to the national market. “The plan is to keep growing so that we get Batswana products in the shops and get Batswana to know the products in the shops,” said Kenewendo. Market street day was initiated last year as a platform to add on to the continuing efforts to grow local businesses. This year, retail sector, including Shoprite, Choppies and Ackerman’s from South Africa participated in the exhibition.

Kenewendo pointed out that supporting local products helps reduce export of jobs. “Most of Batswana will say they don’t want to buy locally produced goods because they are of low quality, we need to buy from them so that they grow. When we buy products from other countries we are exporting jobs, why should we export jobs?” she asked rhetorically. Economic diversification drive should not be a Government initiative alone, only but all citizens should contribute, she concluded.

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Botswana behind in ease of doing business

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Botswana has been challenged to improve easy of doing business for the country to remain competitive amongst its peers.

The Director of Investor Facilitation and Relations at Special Economic Zones Authority’s (SEZA), Neo Mahube recently told delegates at the two- day investment symposium dubbed Doing Business in Botswana, Transitioning Botswana that the country needs to be globally competitive.“The world is growing better than we are, there is something that we are not doing right, despite our political stability and sound economic policies,” said Mahube.

Currently, Botswana lags behind Mauritius, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa on the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report. Mahube said bottlenecks that investors and local startups face to register a business should be resolved.

“We need to transform the way we are doing business, if we are to bring businesses to Botswana,” said Mahube, adding that the country needs to be as efficient as possible to start a business, apart from improving credit efficiency.

She however applauded government for legislation amendment initiatives that have already been put in place ahead of the transformation journey. Mahube said through transforming the ease of doing business the country has potential to create employment.

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