An Economics lecturer at the University of Botswana Dr M. Ntsosa has warned that government should not abdicate and leave the developments in the hands of the private sector. He warned that the latter is risk averse and profit oriented, and therefore government should take the lead in development projects. Dr Ntsosa was a discussant at the review of the draft NDP 11 plan in Gaborone on Monday. He said Special Economic Zones identified in NDP 11 as growth sectors can only be successful if there is no suppression of wages in an effort to outcompete other economies. He said NDP 11 should look at manufacturing as an alternative since it employs many semi skilled workers and pays higher wages
Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo denied that government is handing over the responsibility to development the economy to the private sector, saying government facilitates the role of the private sector by creating a conducive environment for business. He said government provides incentives like low tax incentives for development ofn infrstructure and growth of the economy, inlcuding the provision of good basis for human resource development, which is needed by the private sector. "It is wrong to expect that government alone can provide employment within its structuires. It would appear that the private sector does not think a lot about opportunities outside the local economy. There is too much reliance on projects in the budget. Due to our small population the private sector should more outward looking, you should produce for export," he said.
Economist Keith Jeferris dismissed the NDP 11 draft, which he said portrays developments in the economy as business as usual despite clear challenges. He said the plan is weak on the evaluation what went wrong in NDP 10 and suggestions on what should be done going forward. "The economy is in a crisis. We need dramatic changes but this development plan lacks a sense of urgency. It is business as usual. There is general lack of implementation where a lot is promised but little achieved and nobody is ever held accountable," said Jeferris stunning a GICC conference room filled with government officials.
He gave the example of Doing Business Reforms where he said priority areas have long been agreed but nothing has been implemented, which ahs l;eft the World Bank exassperated after it provided technical support for the development. He also cited the failure in privatisation and the implementation of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). He said currently there are no PPPs while government continues meddling in business and setting up more under performing parastatals, while only one project of privatisation has been achieved after decades of adoption of the policy. "Lack of political will to implement policies also hinders economic growth and should be blamed squarely on government. For example, how do explain the cut in core water infrastructure when we have a water crisis in the country. Such decisions place a major burden on the private sector where business now incur costs to produce their own water and electricity," he said.
Other experts also observed that during NDP 10 the recurrent and the development budget were underspent by as high as 20 %, which signals low implementation capacity at government enclave that in turn translates to the slow down in economic growth. Others suggested that Botswana should take a holistic approach to beneficiation going forward to include other sectors like agriculture, indigenous products, horticulture and solar energy rather than focussing on mining products only.
Under the framework of the Private Sector Development Strategy (PSDS), the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) and Business Botswana (BB), in partnership with the EU Delegation and the Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE), developed the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP) which was launched on the 23 May 2013 in Gaborone, Botswana. The PSDP is meant to address some key areas of the (PSDS). The PSDP aims to stimulate and sustain growth through diversification of the economy while building the capacities of institutions and human resources that support the private sector. Other funding partners promoting specifically Women Entrepreneurship provide additional complementary support.