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BFTU SEC GEN: Thusang Butale

Trade Unions skeptical of Govt’s stance to push export-led growth

Botswana Federation of Trade Union (BFTU) says it is pointless to pursue export-led growth that is not driven by government initiative.

Responding to last month’s Budget Speech on Monday, BFTU Secretary-General (SG), Thusang Butale noted nations like Germany, Japan, South Korea, and China achieved industrialization through selective investments by governments in manufacturing sectors that had the highest technology transfer.

“This gave the ability to have exports that competed on the global stage. Manufacturing not only increases labour productivity, results in sustainable growth, it also helps a country’s income to converge to the frontier technology knowhow,” Butale highlighted.

The government has mentioned that to boost export-led growth, it will improve ease of doing business to attract investors and skilled labour. This includes improving the issuance of work permits, reducing domestic costs of production, and removing barriers to trade.

However, the trade union is not convinced by the government’s position to perfectly execute the export-led growth strategy.

The Union has called on Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) to identify and invest in high-value manufacturing, especially in areas the private sector is avoiding in the short run.

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“However, BDC also ought to holistically search for the efficiency of investments rather than be an absent shareholder in joint-ventures with manufacturing multinationals, such as was evident in the Kromberg and Schubert case,” warned Butale.

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