Trade and Industry minister Dorcas Makgato-Malesu has warned the private sector to stop behaving like ‘cry babies’ who want to be spoon fed, but to rather be shrewd businessmen with internationally competitive products and services.
On Tuesday night, Malesu stopped short of accusing the private sector of being too dependent on government while producing semi-baked products and services on the other hand. “The private sector should be competitive and start producing quality products, otherwise they would not penetrate the export market,” Malesu said. To her, most companies within the private sector have resorted to always turning to government for favour and support to make their businesses sail through easily. “But you cannot be too dependent on government.
We will protect you to a certain extent, but as the private sector you must also bring to the table good and sustainable business strategies that would develop the economy and create employment,” she said. The minister said private companies in fear of competition are always quick to ask for protection as infant industries, but this would backfire according to Malesu. “If you seek to have your market protected, other countries which you aspire to penetrate would also protect their markets thus barring your industries from entering the market, so where would you export your products?” she asked rhetorically. Government according to Malesu is not anti-investment contrary to the beliefs of many.
She stated that lots of support has been over the years channeled to the private sector in a quest to boost the struggling firms so as to help create employment and boost the economy. Government has channeled millions of Pula as subsidies aimed at sustaining the struggling sectors in the local economy. The textile sector for example has been funded at over P50 million, with the first P34 million released in 2008 to cushion the sector against recession. Another P22 million was approved lately after the factor failed to sustain itself, and ran back crying to government. Malesu was speaking at Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC) launch of the Business Facilitation Centre that would see Botswana now having its first ever One Stop Shop for foreign investors.
Malesu said the One Stop Shop is a clear indication of government’s commitment to attract investors and even ensure that it becomes bearable to do business in Botswana. She said BITC, and the Doing Business Committee which she chairs, are committed to improving Botswana’s position in the Doing Business Index, from position 56 out of 180 countries.
Although the position is ‘not bad,’ she said they were aiming to improve the duration of starting business here through the newly launched centre, that will see foreign investors doing everything from applying for permits, registering businesses and everything at the centre.