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Fast tract tourism policies – Dr Matsheka

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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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Engen profit goes up

Koobonye Ramokopelwa

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Engen Botswana, the only listed petroleum company is expecting better results for the six months to June 2018 as a result of favourable trading environment. For the six months period to June 2017, the company made a profit of P55,2 million.

Engen, which supplies petroleum products to retail and institutional clients said, compared to the same period in 2017, profits will be higher on the backdrop of rising international crude oil prices. According to available data, oil prices jumped by 20 percent in the first six months of the year to close at $73 per barrel. Yesterday (Tuesday), oil prices were hovering at $77 per barrel.

The firm, like its peers has also been bolstered by government decision to hike petroleum prices in May. Petrol went up by 23 thebe, 45 thebe for diesel and 38 thebe for paraffin, all per litre. Eric Molale, the minister responsible for petroleum products in the country did not rule out any price increase in the foreseeable future on the backdrop of rising international oil prices.

Local users of petroleum products are not even saved by the fact that the National Petroleum Fund-which cushions customers against increasing oil prices, is fast running dry due to alleged misappropriation by those tasked with maintaining it (the Fund).

Meanwhile, Engen which is headed by Chimweta Moonga has told its shareholders that results will be out before this month ends. “Therefore shareholders are advised to exercise caution when trading in the group securities until such time as a detailed announcement is made,” said a statement from the BSE listed firm.

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Graduates urged to be innovative

Keikantse Lesemela

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Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) President, Verily Molatedi has urged graduates to look beyond job seeking and come up with creative and innovative ways to create employment and contribute to economic development.

This Monday, over 400 students graduated from Imperial School of Business and Science (ISBS) from different fields including business management, Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), finance and banking, human resource management, tourism and hospitality management and advertising. The ceremony was the first batch of students who completed degree programmes in ISBS.

Speaking during the graduation ceremony, Molatedi said the 21st century is awash with many opportunities and challenges but it is only the optimistic that can rise above and turn challenges into opportunities. “I therefore urge all graduates to acknowledge and take advantage of the government efforts in providing facilities beyond tertiary education and contribute towards economic diversification. To this end some of you may have to be entrepreneurs,” said Molatedi.

Molatedi explained that with over 10 000 graduates annually produced in tertiary institutions, graduates must continually build their skills and think innovatively and create their own brands as this will increase their chances of employability globally.

“Employability is about making sure that you diversify your skills, get knowledge for the industry. It is the key to realizing our economic diversification agenda, and hinges on your availability to be enablers in the country’s present and future economy,” said Molatedi.

Imperial School of Business and Science Director, Nidheesh Sharma said graduates have unique professional identity and a set of values and beliefs that will allow them to continue their quest for lifelong learning and distinguish themselves in their chosen paths as the faculties offered are globally recognized.

“Previously we have had many students completing certificates and diploma programmes but this is the first batch to have completed degree programmes. Graduating annually, young professionals were imparted with the knowledge and skills that are required by the regional and global job market,” said Sharma.

Sharma highlighted that ISBS started in 2003 as a BOTA registered institute and in 2011 it registered with Tertiary Education Council (TEC) and started offering Diploma and Advanced Diploma Programmes. “In 2013, the school re-branded from its old name to current name, ISBS. In 2015, ISBS was awarded best upcoming Institution by HRDC and in 2018 HRDC put us in the top three of Private Colleges,” he said.

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