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Ministry of Finance backs Pemandu salary proposals

Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has, from an economy informed perspective, given the salary increment as is proposed by Pemandu report consultants the nod, fresh confidential report leaked to Weekend Post has revealed.  

The top secret report by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, titled “economic background paper to inform government’s position on the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers” indicates that the Pemandu recommendations to the government of Botswana are reasonable. Pemandu has recommended 20% increment for public servants on grades A and B; 10% for grades C and D; and 15% for grade E and F. It further states that in the absence of increments to civil servants on higher notches, of grades E and F, “we recommend the following; 15% for grades A and B; and 10% for grades C and D.”

The additional costs to the government however will be P1.23 billion, the Pemandu report stated, adding that the report is based on among others the affordability to the government; that it is fair to all; and sustainable to the government; and will act as a motivation to government employees. 
The Ministry of Finance states in their classified report dated 27th November 2018, that: “It is therefore important that the recommendations from the Pemandu study on the public service remunerations should be considered against all these other competing needs on the government budget, as well as the limited fiscal space available in the medium term.”

According to the Ministry report, which is based on the baseline budget for 2019/2020, and to be submitted to cabinet, one can consider two scenarios for the implementation of the recent Pemandu recommendations; “scenario 1 it’s either government adopts full implementation of the recommendations; or scenario 2 government adopts and implement at least 50% of the Pemandu recommendations.”

The Ministry explains that with the adoption of these scenarios, especially scenario 1 (full implementation of the recommendations), it would however entail serious trade-offs to be made on whether to cut some of the activities and projects included in the preliminary budget figures for 2019/2020; and/or make no provision for the just submitted report of the Presidential Commission on the review of salaries and conditions of service for the political and traditional leadership and some specific officers.

The report conversely emphasises that the government should take cognizant of any provisions for the normal adjustments of salaries of public servants salaries to compensate for annual inflation; and make any provisions for emergencies such as droughts and possible outbreak of animal diseases. They were also advised to take note of any provisions for adjustments of salaries of the political and traditional leadership that may arise from the recommendations of the presidential commission on the review of salaries and conditions of service for the political and traditional leadership and some specific officers.

In the case of Botswana, the report cautions that the adoption of any of the scenarios will require government to finance the budget deficit through borrowing, both domestically and externally, and/or drawing down on its cash balances held at the Bank of Botswana. It is understood that this nonetheless can also adversely affect the country’s ability to attract foreign direct investment required for economic growth and creation of jobs.

While the Ministry states in the report categorically that it has “no objection to the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers,” it says though that it is important that the government’s offer in the negotiation for salaries and conditions of public service should take into consideration the unfavourable fiscal outlook.

The Finance Ministry also advises that the financial requirements for implementing any recommendations arising from the review of salaries and conditions of service for public officers will have to be considered against this backdrop of the tight fiscal situation. More importantly, report points out that the government will have to make more hard choices at the appropriate time, given the competing demands on the budget.

In the end, as a country, it says government cannot afford to deviate from the path of fiscal sustainability by going beyond the threshold of a budget deficit of 4.0 % of GDP, as this could result in serious consequences for the economy. In view of the limited fiscal space in the medium term, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development therefore recommends that government’s offer “should not exceed scenario 2, which translates to 50% of the total remunerations (to public servants)” recommended in the Pemandu study.

While the adoption of this scenario, the Ministry acknowledges that it would result in the worsening of the deficit for 2019/2020 to P7.9 billion, or -3.7 % of GDP, against the country’s threshold of 4.0 %, but it would nonetheless leave some room for expenditures that may arise from the recommendations of the presidential commission on the review of salaries and conditions of service for the political and traditional leadership and specified officers.

Meanwhile, when delivering his inaugural 2018 State of the Nation Address on November 5, 2018, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi had previously said once the Pemandu Associates report had been finalised, government would engage public sector unions on the recommendations thereto. In addition, President Masisi in the SONA also informed the nation of his appointment of a commission, headed by Justice Monametsi Gaongalelwe, to review the conditions of service for the MPs, councillors, Ntlo ya Dikgosi and the judiciary which has since submitted its recommendations in December.

Masisi had said that it was government’s wish of for any recommendations agreed upon – to be budgeted for and effected on April 1 2019, which is the government financial cycle. Sources at the government enclave told this publication however that the controversial Pemandu report has long been completed but “shelved” for reasons best known to government particularly Office of the President and Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM). The report was compiled by the Malaysian consultancy private firm which was contracted by the Botswana government at the cost of USD 1,677,390 (BWP 17,666,271.4800), inclusive withholding tax of USD 218, 790.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021
Kebonang

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021
boko-and-khama

President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.

While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.

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