SELEBI-PHIKWE: A special Cabinet Committee has been set up to identify and address barriers to speedy implementation of revitalisation of the Selebi-Phikwe economy programme.
The Minister of Investment Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo said government will continue to intensify her efforts in revitalising the economy of the SPEDU region to effectively respond to the closure and liquidation of the BCL Mine and emphasised that Selebi-Phikwe remains a priority.
Addressing the full council meeting here this week, Kenewendo said the revitalisation strategy was developed since the inception of SPEDU. Additionally, government has developed attractive incentive packages to direct investments that would help Selebi-Phikwe reach her full economic potential, she declared.
These include fiscal incentive of five percent during the first five years and 10% thereafter on tax for investors coming to set up in town, 30% government takeoff on locally produced goods, land provision, input costs and Botswana as a one stop service centre.
She said the special Cabinet committee is currently addressing the challenges to the revitalisation programme that cut across ministries.
“SPEDU is making progress although it has been slow. We are anticipating an increased pace in the future through properly targeted investment shows, collaborations amongst stakeholders as well as better coordination within government,” she said.
She said closer collaboration is necessary to ensure that efforts being made have a high impact on the ground.
She added that her ministry will continue to be committed to resuscitating the Selebi-Phikwe economy and can only be successful with the support of the local authority to facilitate investment promotion and ultimately the creation of sustainable jobs.
The minister emphasised the need for the town to be part of the national transformation agenda.
Councillors expressed gratitude towards the establishment of the Cabinet committee, but expressed concerns that since liquidation of the BCL Mine government made a litany of promises through various ministries and parastatals,
They said government must make sure that all the promises are delivered as the business community has been decrying that there is nothing authentic to prove government’s commitment towards reviving the town’s economy.
They also appealed to the minister to ensure that the remaining resilient companies that have sustained the town during unfavourable economic times must be given a priority for government incentives.
They said such companies must be given preference before bringing in new startups.
They also decried that council does not have funds to make the town attractive for investors and said it is regrettable that interventions are moving at an extremely slow pace as compared to the swiftness that the mine was closed at.
“We also expected Linah Mohohlo who has been appointed the coordinator of the town’s economy revitalisation to give us updates on jobs created so far and for her to stay here not in Gaborone,” councillor Evelyn Kgodungwe said.
She also wondered how government intends to improve the special economic zones strategy to improve the town’s economy since it has been there even before the Mine closure.
She added that destitution has increased at an alarming rate and the situation has forced council to request for an increase in Ipelegeng quota.
However, the response from the ministry indicated that the town has received additional 94 slots for the last financial year while other town received nothing and that Ipelegeng programme has also been affected by budget cuts compromising its implementations. Therefore, the increase in quota cannot be granted.
Councilors also emphasised the need to explore any prospects available around the Mine because the town cannot wait any longer for its economy to be revived.