03 December 2023

Opening Remarks by the Chairperson of Council, Hon. O.K. Matambo, Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Botswana

28 June 2013, Windhoek, Namibia

Honourable Ministers,
Madam Executive Secretary,
Commission Members,
Members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a great honour and privilege for me to welcome you all to the 30th Meeting of the SACU Council of Ministers. On behalf of all of us, let me take this opportunity to thank the Government of the Republic of Namibia for the warm hospitality and the excellent arrangements made for this meeting.

Honourable Ministers,

Let me also take this opportunity to recognise the presence of the representatives of the Central Bank Governors of the Common Monetary Area (CMA) in this

meeting. It is my understanding that they will be addressing the Council later on in our Agenda.

Honourable Ministers,

While uncertainty continues to plague the global economy, there are positive signs that bring a glimmer of hope from developments on the continent. In this instance I wish to highlight the recent successful celeberations of 50 years of the existence by the African Union (AU), formely known as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). As Africans, we all believe in the virtues of the AU and that it will deliver “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”. I would also like to highlight some elements of the AU Summit declaration, which reaffirmed commitment to the ideals of Pan Africanism; shared values in gender equality and people centred Union; the activities during the celebrations were also reflective of the concept of renaissance and regional diversity of Africa. All these events also happen during a period when Sub-Saharan

Africa has also enjoyed strong economic growth in 2012 registering 5.0 percent, and economic growth is projected to increase moderately to 5.4 percent in 2013 and 5.7 percent in 2014.

The Anniversary of the AU also coincided with the launch of a ten year strategy for Africa’s structural transformation by the African Development Bank. This strategy is premised on inclusive growth and a gradual transition to green growth. It is aimed at making Africa a global growth point and this will be achieved through five channels namely; infrastructure development; regional economic integration; private sector development; governance and accountability, and skills and technology. It is my wish that as SACU Member States we can position ourselves appropriately in order to reap the maximum benefits from this strategy.

May I also take this opportunity to highlight the outcomes of the 2013 G8 Summit, which took place on 17-18 June 2013 in Northern Ireland. The Agenda for this Summit focused on Trade, Tax and Transparency, which I believe are relevant issues for our own region. In tackling global issues that are critical for growth, prosperity and economic development across the world, the Summit reiterated that Trade is a key engine for global economic growth and the Leaders committed to breaking down barriers to trade by resisting protectionism and concluding amibitious trade deals. The Summit also committed to promote efficient global tax systems by establishing automatic exchange of information across tax administrations. The Summit agreed to promote Transperancy as a key principle for good governance in empowering citizens to hold governments and companies to account by publishing an Open Data Charter. This is to further ensure that international tax rules do not encourage private enterprises to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions.

Honourable Ministers,

Having highlighted the recent developments at the continental and global level, allow me to turn to our agenda for today. I note that during this meeting we will receive updates on progress achieved by the Task Teams on the Review of the Revenue Sharing Arrangement and Industrial Development Policy; updates on the Trade Facilitation Programme; and the ongoing trade negotiations. In addition, we will consider updates on the establishment of the SACU Tribunal and Tariff Board as well the Action Plan on the Outcome of our Retreat, which took place in August 2012.

Honourable Ministers,

In concluding, may I also take this opportunity to remind you that it is almost a year now since Botswana took over Chairmanship of SACU, in July 2012. This meeting therefore marks the last Ordinary Council meeting where Botswana, will sit as Chair. We will be handing over the reigns to the Kingdom of Lesotho effective July 2013. I would therefore like to express my gratitude for the cooperation and the guidance you have accorded me in order to fulfil my role. I will be preparing a Hand-over report on the achievements made during Botswana’s tenure of office. This will be transmitted to my successor, the Government of Lesotho.

Without further ado, I would like us to turn to the agenda for the day. In doing so, may I wish us all fruitful deliberations.

I thank you.