Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) executive management have been accused of benefitting twice when travelling abroad by using credit cards as well as getting allowances for such trips. BITC Chief Executive Officer, Letsebe Sejoe admitted to the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises (PCSBSE), Samson Moyo Guma, that the agency which is tasked with investment promotion has been giving allowances to executives travelling abroad at the same time using credits cards to pay for other services. This did not sit well with Guma who asked Sejoe if he wanted him to collapse as he wondered how that could be possible. Sejoe said the practice has been in place for a period of two years now and while the use of credit cards is reconciled, the same does not apply to allowances. The BITC CEO said he has since instigated an investigation into the matter to find out why employees travelling abroad on official duty are given allowances when at the same time given credits cards to use.
One BITC employee who is in senior management later told this publication that there is nothing wrong in using credit cards and getting allowances at the same time. He said allowances are meant to among other things entertain guests when on official duty while credit card is for accommodation and other incidental expenses. Meanwhile Sejoe said the organisation is faced with challenges that obstruct it to deliver on its mandate properly. BITC, which is tasked with investment facilitation on both local and international companies, said lack of serviced land with water and other necessities is making it hard for companies to spread their operations evenly across the country thereby leading to companies gravitating their investments in urban areas. “The length of time the bureaucracy takes to allow for setting up of operations often takes too long,” Sejoe told the committee adding that the design of the whole process should be looked at.
The other issue that is troubling the agency is issuance of permits, either work or residence to investors seeking to set business here. Sejoe told the committee that there is an outcry within the local business community that this country is not as open as it is often portrayed. “Permits are just rejected and when you seek an explanation as to why it has been rejected, you are told it has been rejected because it has been rejected, so we will never establish what the truth is,” Sejoe said when responding to a question from the committee chairman on reasons usually given by authorities on rejection of permits. He said even investors who have stayed in Botswana for over 30 years have had their permits refused extension and this he said, has led to companies holding back on expansion and reinvestment due to uncertainty on what will happen next. Sejoe said the government machinery does not recognise the impact of turning away investors and Guma said a situation like that cannot be allowed to happen. On issuance of visas and how it impeded foreign investment, Sejoe said though he could not speak authoritatively on it, it however still remains a challenge. BITC says it has in the past year engaged in facilitation of 44 companies which form a combined value of P2.1 billon and are now exporting to 24 markets.