Monday, February 9, 2009

Stakeholders Consultations of Reference on the High Level Consultative Council and its Membership by C.M. Lekaukau

source: Republic of Botswana (9/2/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 2 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


Distinguished Members of the Private Sector and Colleagues from the Government Implementation Coordination Office (GICO)

1. It is my privilege and pleasure to welcome you to share with us the new Terms of Reference of the High Level Consultative Council (HLCC), its membership and way forward which will enable the Government Implementation Coordination Office to brief Government on any proposals which will emanate from our discussions of today on the dispensation of widening the membership of the Council. It is very important that we prepare well for the dialogue between the Private Sector and Government which is facilitated through the unique forum of the High Level Consultative Council.

2. The Revised National Policy on Incomes, Employment, Prices and Profits of 2005 was approved by the National Assembly on the 5th April 2007. Among the recommendations adopted is the recommendation changing the Terms of Reference and Membership of High Level Consultative Council. The Revised Terms of Reference and Membership are being circulated to facilitate your participation in the discussions with an informed knowledge.

3. The HLCC is chaired by His Excellency the President and meets about twice a year and it encompasses all Ministers. Amongst its membership will be “Private Sector Leaders” as well as a representative each of the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions, Botswana Council of Non Government Organisation (BOCONGO) from the Private Sector. Therefore, today’s discussions are centred on how “Private Sector Leaders” should be determined to attend both the HLCC and the preparatory meetings with the individual Ministries. It is very important that the representation should be streamlined in order to send very few delegates to these meetings for effective participation as you realize that BOCONGO will be sending one delegate only to represent all Non Governmental Organisations.

4. The procedure for bringing any Issues concerning the Private Sector to the HLCC are first brought up at these sectoral meetings of the individual Ministries at meetings chaired by the relevant Ministers for resolution. Only those issues which cannot be resolved at sectoral level are referred for further discussion and resolution at the HLCC. The HLCC is attended by the Chairpersons of the Private Sector delegations which attend the Ministerial sectoral meetings. The Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) have coordinated the private sector representation to these meetings all along and as such private sector representation was also organised through the BOCCIM membership. We should applaud BOCCIM because they struggled some years back to achieve this important dialogue between the Private Sector and Government.

5. It is felt that the quality of input by the Private sector to the Ministerial sectoral meetings could be improved given the availability of resources, skills, experience and the expertise which the Private Sector is endowed with and we can all tap into. Hence, the invitation today to the various professional associations to participate in the relevant meetings, and contribute to enhancement of the quality of engagement with Government. We have inter alia, today invited representatives of the following organizations to engage in this process:

• Botswana Bankers Association;
• Botswana Institute of Accountants;
• Law Society of Botswana;
• Botswana Institute of Engineering;
• Real Estate Institute of Botswana;
• Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana;
• Botswana Agricultural Union;
• The Construction Sector;
• The Transport Sector, comprising: - Botswana Road Transport Society, Botswana Bus Operators Association and Gaborone Taxi & Local Bus Association;
• Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association;
• Botswana Diamond Manufacturers Association;
• Botswana Federation of Trade Unions; and
• Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO).

6. Also present today are representatives of BOCCIM who have a long history of co-ordinating the engagement of the private sector with Government as I have alluded above on how this dialogue came into being. BOCCIM has compiled a schedule of sectoral meetings in conjunction with the individual Ministries and will present this to you shortly so that you may consider as to which meetings would be relevant to your particular organization. BOCCIM has also scheduled pre-meetings with each sector so that you prepare for your meeting with the relevant Ministry. It is important that as pertinent organizations you then apply your knowledge, experience, resources and skills to the subject matter related to those particular Ministries and present well researched submissions with proposed solutions for consideration by the relevant Ministries. Since there are two meetings before the next HLCC meeting to be held in May 2009, it is hoped that some of your proposed solutions will be confirmed by the relevant Ministry. Where the Private Sector representation and the relevant Ministry agree to disagree, this matter may then be tabled for further discussion at the HLCC and direction.

7. We trust that you will agree that this process of consultation and dialogue will be beneficial to the economy particularly with the challenges we are facing this year. These challenges can be overcome if the private sector, labour, civil society and Government works together to turn challenges into opportunities and take the country forward in its development path towards Vision 2016. In the fourth item of the agenda, we also allow you to proffer advice on how you think we should conduct our affairs here at home on the basis of the present global financial and economic crisis more so that some of you may have had access to the budget speech which was delivered by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning to the Parliament yesterday.

8. I hope that I have given you enough background to enable you to constructively participate in our consultations today. I now call upon BOCCIM to present the schedule of sectoral meetings which have been agreed with relevant Ministries. PULA

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