Maun, Selibe Phikwe and Francistown have each welcomed successful National Budget Review engagements this week, courtesy of Stanbic Bank. On the 2nd and 3rd of February 2016, the Bank engaged customers and key stakeholders within the respective locations to unpack the National Budget, driving the conversation of the National Budget beyond the city limits of Gaborone. These reviews were held in collaboration with Business Botswana and in association with Accpro Accountants, University of Botswana Department of Economics and Motswedi Securities. The panellists sought to demystify the individual, community, business, and national implications on the Budget.
Amongst some of the issues interrogated were: understanding National Budget and Budgeting Process; Assumptions underlying the Budget; global economic environment and domestic economic context. In addition, the engagements tackled key reforms and policy announcements; whether the proposed budget is expansionary; and whether the Budget addresses national priorities. Ultimately, panellists explored what, if any, the opportunities are for the business community.
Business Botswana acting CEO, Dichaba Molobe, said the need to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive has not been clearly defined and therefore recommended a medium term review to ensure the creation of a conducive business environment. “The fiscal environment under this Budget is unfavourable with projected revenue lower than expected, which coincides with a down turn in the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) revenues. The fiscal “envelope” is therefore shrinking and putting government under pressure for the second year running. This situation is worrisome and we hope that it represents a cyclical swing and not a trend.
However, we commend the Minister for striking a reasonable balance under these circumstances. The budget should have reaffirmed the role of the private sector as the engine of economic growth. In that view, we had expected the Minister to highlight measures to engage the private sector to manage projects to avoid cost over-runs and delays. There is need for an innovative and clear strategy to grow the economy. This strategy should be anchored on the private sector as the engine of growth while government focuses on policymaking and regulations.”
The reviews, now in their 5th year, received a remarkable attendance by residents across all locations. “We are pleased to see such a platform gain in traction and popularity, a true testament to the thirst of our stakeholders for greater understanding and analysis of such key economic issues. As a business and as a financial partner, we continue to seek ways to engage Batswana on key issues, and working with Business Botswana and with the support of Accpro Accountants, University of Botswana Department of Economics and Motswedi Securities, we are happy to see further strides being made in this regard,” said Leina Gabaraane, Chief Executive of Stanbic Bank Botswana.