As the work towards the privatisation of Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) was commissioned on Friday, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Jimmy Opelo assured there would be no jobs lost.
Last year, government announced a Cabinet decision to privatise the BMC, which has been enjoying the beef export monopoly in an effort to liberalise the sector as corporation was struggling to make profit.
BMC currently operates three abattoirs in Lobatse, Francistown and Maun.
But government has stated its intention to privatise the Lobatse and Francistown abattoirs and keep the Maun one under its wing as a way to assist farmers in the Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) zones.
Although there are already allegations that over 100 BMC employees could lose their jobs once the privatisation exercise is finalised, Opelo has said the nation should not be worried.
Speaking at a press conference hosted by the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) in Gaborone, Opelo said the privatisation of the Commission has more positives than negatives.
Opelo said ending the BMC monopoly should not bring fear to the nation, as there are more goodies associated with it.
“One thing that I should emphasise and make clear is that, once people hear about privatisation, they attach it to job losses. I can assure you that there will be no job losses,” he said.
“In fact, what we are doing, like the recommendation coming from the liberalisation study is that, everyone from the value chain is included at the rightful place according to his skills and understanding of what the beef industry entails. Issues doing with right farming, meat processing and entire value chain have to be undertaken by all the people who know what they are doing.”
He said while it has taken long to start the BMC privatisation, it was worth the wait, as government does not want a repeat of past mistakes.
“There have been a couple of reasons why it has taken a little bit longer than we had thought. First of all is that privatisation we have seen in some early stages in some quarters did not necessarily address the issues that were core.
But we have said, when we privatise BMC, we want to do the right thing, we do proper things and meet the objectives of why we want to do it and make sure that the private sector takes part in the development of this country even in meat processing,” he added.
He said this would liberalise the beef industry and export market while in the process, creating more opportunities for local farmers. He said prior to the privatisation exercise, government had looked at liberalisation of meat in the export market, which has directed toward de-monopolisation of the BMC.
He said BMC is not being taken away from the hands of Batswana, but those with the capacity to compete in the global space to sell the beef.
Meanwhile, PEEPA chief executive officer Obakeng Moumakwa said Minchin & Kelly have been selected as the preferred consultants for the privatisation of BMC at a cost of P8.7 million.
He said their responsibilities will include carrying out a business, financial and human resource assessment of BMC; valuation of BMC; developing a strategy and transaction plan to guide the privatisation; and submitting a comprehensive Project Completion Report at the end of the project.
The consultants are expected to submit the report in the next 10 weeks.
He also announced that Deloitte Consulting has been selected as the preferred Transaction Advisors for the concession of the Maun Abattoir at a cost of P4.2 million.
The meat company has been reeling in the red over the past years surviving mainly on guarantees and loans from government.