A recent study titled: “Education financing research report at national level; the case of Botswana”, released this week has recommended that the rich people in Botswana should sponsor the education sector in the country.
Having analysed the Botswana context and based on other experiences in the country the study came up with some innovative options to provide additional resources to the education segment.“Some of these ways are taxing multi-millionaires; putting a levy on the mining sector, as well as increasing Official development assistance (ODA) support, and curbing illicit financial flows in the mining sector to make more resources available as government revenue,” study posits.
According to the study, Botswana has about 5 Multi-Millionaires; Abdul Satar Dada who owns Associated Investment Development Cooperation (AIDC), he is worth US$50 million. There is also Gulaam Husain Abdoola, owner of Turn Star Holdings, worth US$25 million; then Chandrakanth P Chauhun, from Sefalana Group and is worth US$12 million; as well as Ramachandran Ottapathu, Chief Executive Officer of Choppies who owns 19.5% in Choppies valued at US$60 million.
In addition there is Farouk Essop Ismail, Deputy CEO of Choppies who owns Far Properties worth US$35 Million and also 14.6% in Choppies worth US$45 million. Alexander Forbes, one of the Billionaires and philanthropist of the world states that‚ business was originated to produce happiness and not to pile up money.
Therefore, “these 5 rich people in Botswana and any upcoming rich persons could be taxed in a manner that their taxes are made special to meet education needs in the country,” study highlights. The study came with the recommendation after finding that the education financing model in Botswana is heavily dependent on government providing the resources.
Although government has provided resources to education sector above 20% and 6% of Botswana Gross Domestic Products (GDP), the resources are not adequate due to growing needs of the sector; resources to education sector are provided through a number of channels or line ministries creating coordinating challenges. It states that other than financing the sector from pubic resources, the sector does not have other innovative financing models. “Experiences of financing needs at the tertiary level have led to the education sector to begin to search for new innovative financing mechanisms as dependency on public resources is not sustainable,” it stresses.
Study suggests Botswana should also introduce education Levy
In addition to taxing millionaires, the study points out that Botswana is probably the only country in Southern Africa that has an alcohol levy imposed to generate funds for rehabilitation of alcoholics and to meet alcohol related ill health in public hospitals. Introduced in 2008, the levy rates have been increased over the years and over 1.2 billion Pula has been collected. Although the inception, management and its utilization has been a borne of contention in the country, resources have been generated that could go a long way to deal with effects of alcohol consumption in the country.
Borrowing a leaf from this and knowing well the importance of education to the country and that it is amongst the top five government priorities, the study states that “an education levy could be imposed also on certain commodities such as alcohol or fuel just to generate additional resources for education.”
Freezing up some portion of foreign reserves for education
According to the Reserve Bank of Botswana, foreign reserves are assets held by the Bank of Botswana in foreign currencies. The reserves are accumulated mainly through surpluses on the balance of payments together with increases to the value of existing foreign currency investments. The report states: It is important for Botswana to maintain adequate foreign exchange reserves to be able to meet the demand for foreign currency to pay for imports of goods and services on an ongoing basis, as well as meet other international payment obligations, including the costs of servicing international debt.
“Much as the Botswana government has such reserves aimed at meeting import needs of the country as well as making sure that the country does not suffer from economic shocks, some of the reserves could be used to meet domestic needs such as financing education with the ever growing needs in the sector. The education sector can request special provision from the MFDP so that it could have the education budget increased,” it states.
The bank states that as at the end of 2014, the reserves had increased by 16.7 percent from P67.8 billion recorded a year earlier, due to net foreign exchange inflows and the depreciation of the Pula against major international currencies. The reserves were sufficient to cover approximately 18.5 months of imports of goods and services. As of April 2015, the reserves were P89.4 billion, the equivalent of 20 months of import cover.
Cost Sharing arrangement crops again
Most technicians in the study were of the opinion that much as the Botswana government provides 99.1% of financing to basic education services, this is not sustainable in the light that domestic resources are dwindling due to a number of reasons ranging from loss of revenue as some players in the private sector are shutting down operations in Botswana; there is also a growing need for financing to other social sectors such as health.
“It was therefore suggested that a cost-sharing model be introduced whereby parents and guardians who are well-to-do, should be able to meet costs of footing education for their wards and those that are not able to meet such costs can them be taken under government support programme fully,” it posits. Currently parents and guardians do not pay school fees for basic education but only at senior secondary level. Although this came out loud and repeatedly from many technicians, they were also quick to indicate that this will require political will to be implemented.
Botswana’s Key Education Priorities are articulated in the: National Policy on Education; the Revised National Policy on Education; the new Tertiary Education Policy; the National Vocational Training Policy; the National Credit and Qualification Framework; the Maitlamo Information Communications Technology (ICT) Policy, Vision 2016 (now Vision 2036), and the Science and Technology Policy, together with other government policies.
Current funding sources of education in Botswana
Meanwhile, current funding sources to the education sector in Botswana are: public resources through the National Budget; through Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) as grants and technical support from development partners; from the private sector and from parents and guardians of students through school fees and development fund payments.
The study looked at the financing model used for the last 8 years between 2010/2011 and 2017/2018 assessing existing financing documents, policies and their relevance and ability to provide education to persons in the hardest to reach areas of the country as well as to what extent the existing model is able to mobilize resources to adequately finance the sector.
It was conducted for the Botswana Coalition on Education for All (BOCEFA), with support from Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) through Africa Network Campaign on Education for All (ANCEFA) whose broad aim was to determine and suggest the best possible efficient and innovative education financing model for the country looking at the country context. In the study, Government officials were interviewed especially those from the Ministry of Finance Planning and Development; the Ministry of Basic Education (MOBE) Corporate services, the Ministry of Tertiary Education and Research and the Human Resources Development Council.
As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.
According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.
According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.
“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.
BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.
Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.
Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.
BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.
The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.
Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.
In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made. “Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.
Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25
They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.
In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations. The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.
The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.
The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.
The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public “Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.
Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.
The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.
“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).
The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.
Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.
A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service. Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.
A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.
He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.
Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.
Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates. “The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.
This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.
That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”
Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.
“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.
The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.
According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu
For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”
The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.