Seasoned economist Dr. Thapelo Matsheka currently campaigning for a parliamentary sit in Lobatse under the ruling party ticket, has applauded President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration for its endevours to prop up local entrepreneurs and companies.
Matsheka’s sentiments come after the Finance and Economic Development Minister, Kenneth Matambo announced that the proposed expenditure estimates for the year 2019/2020 has 45.1 billion pula budgeted for procurement of good and service.“It’s a very good but delayed initiative,” said Dr. Matsheka on the sidelines of the 2019 Budget Speech presentation, adding that the High Level Consultative Council (HLCC) has already highlighted to President Masisi that parastatals and government institutions are not supporting locals under the ploy ‘citizens do not deliver’.
He said the 2019/2020 budget proposals indicate President Masisi’s commitment to ensure that citizen empowerment becomes central tenet of his delivery.“We appreciate the amount of money that has been set aside but what we often find is that institutions that do procurement set themselves for failure by adopting rules that exclude citizen companies,” said Dr. Matsheka. Dr. Matsheka further condemned the procurement institutions irrational qualification requirements citing experience clauses, as one of the deliberate stumbling block.“These companies with
20 years experience were supported by their own governments to reach those years. The reason why they are here is because they have saturated the market in their domestic economies,” said Matsheka, highlighting that government has to deliberately nurture citizen companies to grow into the region. He dismissed notions that local companies are heavily reliant on government. “Government expenditure is part of the national income accounting system. There is no way that government that taxes Batswana cannot in-turn, give them work but give work to foreign companies because presumably they have got more years in the market, in their own countries,” said Matsheka. The veteran economist challenged the government to further review the combination between startups and expansion of already existing businesses in procuring goods and services.
On privitisation of parastatal which according to minister Kenneth Matambo government will be aggressively pushing, Matsheka said what has been lacking is to push the government entities to business model of operating. “I am hoping that the new dispensation will give them latitude.” He however warned that some parastatals can never be privatised because they have a social function, adding that the country still has too many parastatals. “It is going to be very important that they are looked at and clustered in a manner that allows some to be merged, so that we can streamline operations,” said Matsheka.
Meanwhile, Business Botswana, the country’s apex business body has announced that it is ready to fully participate in the economy and utilise the 45.1 billion proposed for goods and services to create employment. “However, until we sit down and breakdown the 45 billion and know where it is sitting and how accessible it is, the business community cannot be proactive,” said Gobusamang Keebine, Business Botswana President. Keebine said despite the significant procurement budget estimate, BB has its own views and vision, which are being dovetailed close to government initiatives. Commenting on the budget in overall, Keebine said it is an election budget, as opposed to the employment creation line being sold to the nation.