Gaborone: The Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) plans to reassess the country's crawling peg exchange rate regime to determine its effectiveness and relevancy in the current economic environment.
Speaking at a gala dinner marking its silver jubilee at the Gaborone International Convention Centre on Saturday, the president of the private sector representative body Alex Monchusi said they intend to critically analyse the exchange rate policy mechanism to determine if it still serves the economy adequately.
With this, BOCCIM aims to ensure equal benefits for imports and exports from the exchange rate policy to drive economic diversification.
BOCCIM also plans to assess the level and incidence of levies to the business sector. "We intend to conduct a comprehensive review of the impact of the levies on private sector development and performance.
"We anticipate that the private sector will have informed policy choices on trade facilitation, access to external markets, trade and industrial policies and be more actively involve in trade forums," Monchusi said.
Botswana currently uses the crawling peg exchange rate system, which allows the value of the domestic currency to be set relative to a basket of currencies. BOCCIM influences government policy affecting the private sector through representations on various advisory sectors and categories of the private sector.
The organisation also intends to benchmark the social dimension of doing business and competitiveness in Botswana by tackling issues of productivity, work ethics and skills development. "By now we are all aware of Botswana's declining position over the past three years," he said.
"BOCCIM intends to understand and appreciate the cause of our declining productivity levels and benchmark on what other countries who had similar ratings are doing to improve. Work ethics and productivity is key and can have an impact on the investor's choice.
"Even though we have been applauded for a public-private dialogue system, BOCCIM believes there is still room for improvement and we intend to strengthen social dialogue, with particular emphasis on the High Level Consultative Council framework and Pitsos."
Monchusi told guests that the business environment has to change as the private sector cannot depend on government alone.
BOCCIM, which is a private non-profit making organisation registered under the Trade Unions and Employers' Act, was started as the Botswana Employers' Federation in 1986. The organisation represents the interests of the private sector in total and is recognised by government as fulfilling this task.
BOCCIM also administers an extensive programme of training courses, offers industrial relations assistance, and provides business management counselling to member firms. At the event, BOCCIM also honoured the organisation's former presidents. First up were Richard Mannathoko and George Kgoroba, who were honoured posthumously. The others were Neo Moroka, Iqbal Ebrahim, Modiri Mbaakanyi and Tshipa Mothibatsela.
Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) received the Sponsor of the Year award while Training Company of the Year went to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC). A University of Botswana student of Business Studies, Lebogang Kgakole, received a P2, 000 cheque for being the best student. Monchusi also briefed guests about some of the projects they want to undertake in the next "25 years".
BOCCIM intends to improve the bipartite relations with trade unions. In 2011, BOCCIM and the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the two organisations to develop a mutual understanding of joint advocacy. "We expect in 2012 to strengthen our rapport by developing a joint voice for advocacy," the BOCCIM president said.