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Sport left out of stimulus plan

MQONDISI DUBE
Nation's pride: Sport creates employment opportunities PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
The draft economic recovery plan, a blueprint meant to steer the country out of the coronavirus (COVID-19) blues, has left out sport.

The 65-page document, titled ‘2020/21-2022/23 Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP)’ is expected to be brought before the National Assembly.

It suggests a raft of interventions to reinvigorate the economy, but sport has been excluded.

The report acknowledges the sector as one of those hard hit by the pandemic, particularly in the short term. Sport has been on suspension since March, although some activities have resumed following the lifting of a lockdown last month.

“The sectors that suffered from a short-term impact of the lockdown are mining, agriculture, retail trade (other than food and pharmaceuticals), and restaurants, construction, transport, finance and business services, and other services (private education, cultural and sporting activities, creative and media services, dry cleaning, hair salons, and other social and personal services),” reads the report, prepared by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).

But while the comprehensive document proposes several ways to assist growing the economy post COVID-19, sport has been overlooked.

“The objectives of the ERTP are to support the restoration of economic activity and incomes, facilitate economic growth and the further expansion of productive capacity, accelerate economic transformation and build the resilience of the economy,” the report said. The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare said he could not talk about the document as it was still under discussion. “I can not comment now because it is an ongoing process,” Rakgare said.

While the

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document was put together by the MFDP and related departments, other ministries had an input. “Other ministries have also contributed to the development of the plan and its associated initiatives,” the report indicates.

Sport would keep its fingers crossed that when the document is presented before Parliament the activity would be considered.

The sector, particularly football, contributes to employment and provides other benefits to many households.

Former Botswana National Sport Commission chairperson, Solly Reikeletseng said sport is key to the economy, and therefore deserves a place in the economic recovery plan.

“There is no way sport should be left out of the stimulus plan unless there was an error or an omission.

Sports is one of the economy drivers, especially from a country branding point of viewing and building perceptions about doing business with the country,” Reikeletseng said.

Asked what immediate interventions are needed to ensure the sector contributes to the stimulation of the economy post COVID-19, Reikeletseng said it was imperative for the country to host a major competition.

“Botswana should bite the bullet and host one major event, not a youth event but an event that has big names, which will be able to pull economic stimulation. This could be the AFCON, Africa Athletics. This will, in a big way, accelerate development and ensure there is economic activity, which will see us in a good position within the shortest possible time,” Reikeletseng said.



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