- Calls on govt to bar civil servants from public tenders
Speaking at a validation workshop to present the results of Public-Private Dialogues (PPDs) on the Private Sector Recovery Plan that held at Avani Hotel in Gaborone recently, leaders of Business Botswana said senior civil servants should be barred from pitching for public tenders because they have the advantage of privileged information.
“We want to be a part of the Reset Agenda, which means we also have to improve our services for us to contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development (of the country,” said the CEO of Business Botswana, Norman Moleele.
Moleele disclosed that the organisation has already engaged the Chief of Staff on these issues, especially barring senior government officials from public tenders. “We have always been opposed to the idea of civil servants doing business,” he emphasised. The forum also raised a query about what it called the diminishing consultative process that Botswana has always been known for. The Public-Private Dialogues were held in late 2021 for the public and the private sectors to develop an agenda for engagement, ensure implementation of goals, and improve service delivery.
A consultant engaged by Business Botswana during the PPDs, Isaac Ndunga, said most villages across the country were covered during the dialogues and that said essential themes arising were that of harnessing the digital economy/4th Industrial Revolution, diversifying the economy, the need for a greener economy as well as a commercially independent agricultural sector. Ndunga said the findings of the report will be availed as soon as it is ready. In partnership with Investment Climate Reform (ICR), the Private Sector Recovery Plan is meant to assist private businesses after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ndunga told workshop participants that the private sector players, particularly stock farmers, felt the COVID-19 Relief Fund did not cater for them at the height of the pandemic. “There was a feeling that there was a need to expand the relief fund,” he said. “Stock farmers say they lost livestock and infrastructure but were not covered by the fund.”
Other critical issues were inclusion of women and the youth in businesses, constructive dialogue with commercial banks, developing a resilient supply chain that responds to the needs of specific regions and construction of infrastructure to facilitate ease of doing businesses for SMMEs, Ndunga said. Presenting the findings, he said the PPDs should be strengthened, there should be a needs assessment for resource mobilisation, confirmation of developed project proposals and development of a monitoring framework.
PPDs pivotal to economic growth
Business Botswana affirmed its commitment to the growth of the economy. The organisation, which is made up of 78 percent SMMEs, said it is tapping into the country’s aspirations of being a high-income economy by 2036. Moleele described the PPDs as a key way in which to take all developmental stakeholders on board. Business Botswana therefore has to play a key role in the direction of the economy. Botswana aims to expand its narrow economic base and move away from depending on tourism and diamonds, which are thus far the two main drivers of the Sub-Saharan nation’s economy.