When responding to the Budget Speech on Monday afternoon, Gaolathe said his party is concerned that the tourism sector is narrowly focused on the Okavango and Chobe or high value, eco-tourism and is concentrated in a few highly capitalised hands.
“Our objective with this sector therefore is to expand the tourism hub in the Okavango-Chobe-Makgadikgadi triangle, including moving down-market in selected areas to increase penetration; and develop the South East as a regional conference centre,” he said.
He said when his party attains power, they would institute a programme for citizen investment in product development including cultural activities, restaurants, transport, entertainment, and hotel supplies in concentrated areas, including in downtown Kasane, Maun and Gaborone.
He said that the country has created an intricate interdependence of tourism with the education system, via a raft of institutions including Local Enterprises Authority (LEA), specialised schools for cutting, polishing, jewellery creation, downstream/lateral industries and hospitality for skills development.
Moreover, he called for the need to focus on sectors where the country has continuing advantages due to having resources that can only be exploited locally such as minerals, tourism, and agriculture.
significantly within our control. For example, we will enhance our participation in the diamond value chain and do the same with other minerals where we can do it feasibly at scale,” he added.
He indicated that the diamond and mineral sector have for a long time been narrow, focused on mining and exporting raw minerals with little beneficiation taking place locally.
Gaolathe maintained that the diamond sector remains opaque and a majority of citizens do not know how to participate in it except if they are employed in it.
“One of our objectives with this sector is to significantly expand access of citizens to participation in the diamond/mineral value chain and to establish Botswana as one of the top ten diamond trading centres.”
Meanwhile, Gaolathe who is also the Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington South said government should increase wages for public servants by 15% effective immediately to empower the middle class and set on a path for creating a highly productive workforce.
He said wages have remained stagnant for years, resulting in loss of morale in the public service.
He called on government to also put plans in place to set a transparent manner for adjusting salaries based on inflation, performance and exceptional skill.