Botswana’s overall business confidence has experienced a marginal drop from 48 percent in March 2017 to 46 percent in September 2017, according to the latest release of the Business Expectation Survey released by Bank of Botswana.
Constrained domestic demand, restricted government spending, unfavourable exchange rates and lack of skilled labour are the most cited impediments to doing business in the current survey.
Similar to the previous two surveys, constrained domestic demand and government spending were ranked as the first and second most significant challenges facing businesses due to perceived slow growth in both government spending and household disposable income.
Two impediments to doing business ranked third; unfavorable exchange rate whereby exporters consider the Pula to be overvalued, while importers are of the view that the domestic currency is undervalued and unavailability of skilled labour, which is exacerbated by difficulties encountered in recruiting foreigners.
WHAT MUST BE DONE TO CHANGE ALL GLOOM?
To boost the business confidence, Public Finance expert from the University of Botswana Prof Emmanuel Botlhale says it will have to entail a cocktail of solutions. Utmost he says, is improving on the ease of doing business to deal with problematic issues such as excessive red tape, poor work ethics and low national productivity. “These factors also weigh down on Botswana’s global competitiveness,” he pointed out. Botlhale however says interest rates and inflation are within the broad macroeconomic objectives.
“MAYBE WE ALL NEED AN ATTITUDE FIX”-says Business Botswana
“There is a lot of disgruntlement and it is more to do with the attitude. People just drag their feet at the highest level. For instance, the Permanent Secretaries, during workshops they are always on the defensive side than to come up with solutions to the problems… we are hoping that with the new leadership coming in in April, the roles will be more clarified. From the incoming leadership, you can get the sense that they see things are not done right. There is hope that some things will be undone,” said Business Botswana President Gobusamang Keebine who is also concerned by the country’s drop in indicators used by the World Bank.