Latest Statistics Botswana’s Formal Sector Employment Survey shows that even though the cost of living is not getting easier in Botswana the employee earnings are stubbornly betrayal as they are decreasing -the latest fall being a decrease of 1.3 percent, from P6, 430 in June 2018 to P6, 347 in September 2018.
When looking at wages or earnings especially the estimated monthly average cash earning for employees in formal sector, the monthly average earnings was P6, 038 for citizens, P18, 265 for non-citizen and P6, 347 for all employees as at end of September 2018. According to the statistics, there was a decrease of 1.3 percent in monthly average earnings for all employees from June 2018 (P6, 430) to September 2018 (P6, 347).
Estimated Monthly Average Cash Earnings by Economic Activity, Citizenship and Sex, September 2018 and June 2018 shows that some sectors decreases in employment. The total estimated monthly average cash earnings by economic activity in the Wholesale & Retail Trade sector went from P 4,155 P4, 392, a 5,4 percent decrease. Another huge decrease, by 5, 2 percent, was recorded in the manufacturing sector from 5, 384 in June 2018 to 5,677 in September 2018. There was also a notable decrease in the health sector from P10,219 to P9,781 in September 2018.
Even though teachers or education sector unions have been vocal and advocating for increase of salaries for years, saying teachers are the most demotivated in Botswana, the recently released survey shows earnings in the education sector has however decreased albeit slightly. In the education sector, the earnings decreased from P9,720 to P9,589 which is a fall by 1,4 percent.
Even though mining is the mainstay of Botswana economy and many think salaries are always going up in the mining and quarrying sector, this contradicts the Formal Sector Employment Survey which states that earnings in that sector decreased by 1.1 percent between June and September last year. The hotel & restaurants, construction and the transport & communication sectors recorded an increase estimated monthly average cash earnings by sector between June and September last year; for 9.0, 6.1 and 5.6 percent respectively.
Minimum hourly wage rates
According to Statistics Botswana the minimum hourly wage rates in Thebe per hour from April 2009 to November 2017 shows that the minimum hourly rate in all sectors increased by 52 percent between 2009 and 2017 from 380 thebe to 579 thebe respectively. According to the employment survey, the minimum hourly wage rates have been increasing over the above mentioned years except for 2009 to 2011, where the rates remained the same for three years.
According to Acting Statistician General Malebogo Kerekang, formal sector employment increased by 1.0 percent between June 2018 and September 2018 with Local Government recording the highest increase of 1.8 percent, followed by Central Government and Parastatals with 1.4 percent and 1.1 percent respectively. According to Kerekang, the Ipelegeng Programme prompted the increase in Local Government employment. Despite Ipelegeng always being on the receiving end of politicians, labour activists and economists for being misguided and coming with short term economic effects, it recorded an increase of 2.5 percent helping Local Government get the highest increase of 1.8 percent.
“On the other hand, Agriculture sector had recorded an increase in employment of 1.2 percent between the two quarters, followed by Real Estate and Hotels & Restaurants with 1.0 percent and 0.9 percent respectively. Employee earnings decreased from P6,430 in June 2018 to P6,347 in September 2018, which is a decrease of 1.3 percent,” said Kerekang.
The employment survey shows that the overall employment increased by 1.0 percent (3,976 persons) from 413,186 persons in June 2018 to 417,162 persons in September 2018. All in all Local Government recorded the highest growth of 1.8 percent in employment, followed by Central Government and Parastatals with 1.4 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.
According to the Statistics Botswana report the Private Sector recorded an increase in employment of 0.3 percent. In September 2018, a total of 10,554 (2.5 percent) employees were non-citizens. Out of this total, Private and Parastatal sectors recorded 9,592 employees, says the survey. The recently released Formal Sector Employment Survey manufacturing industry was the major employer of noncitizens (19.3 percent), followed by Construction and Education industries with 18.3 percent and 17.6 percent respectively.
Marcian Concepts have been contracted by Selibe Phikwe Economic Unit (SPEDU) in a P230 million project to raise the town from its ghost status. The project is in the design and building phase of building an industrial hub for Phikwe; putting together an infrastructure in Bolelanoto and Senwelo industrial sites.
This project comes as a life-raft for Selibe Phikwe, a town which was turned into a ghost town when the area’s economic mainstay, BCL mine, closed four years ago. In that catastrophe, 5000 people lost their livelihoods as the town’s life sunk into a gloomy horizon. Businesses were closed and some migrated to better places as industrial places and malls became almost empty.
However, SPEDU has now started plans to breathe life into the town. Information reaching this publication is that Marcian Concepts is now on the ground at Bolelanoto and Senwelo and works have commenced. Marcian as a contractor already promises to hire Phikwe locals only, even subcontract only companies from the area as a way to empower the place’s economy.
The procurement method for the tender is Open Domestic bidding which means Joint Ventures with foreign companies is not allowed. According to Marcian Concepts General Manager, Andre Strydom, in an interview with this publication, the project will come with 150 to 200 jobs. The project is expected to take 15 months at a tune of P230 531 402. 76. Marcian will put together construction of roadworks, storm-water drains, water reticulation, street lighting and telecommunication infrastructure. This tender was flouted last year August, but was awarded in June this year. This project is seen as the beginning of Phikwe’s revival and investors will be targeted to the area after the town has worn the ghost city status for almost half a decade.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has slashed its outlook the world economy projecting a significantly deeper recession and slower recovery than it anticipated just two months ago.
On Wednesday when delivering its World Economic Outlook report titled “A long difficult Ascent” the Washington Based global lender said it now expects global gross domestic product to shrink 4.9% this year, more than the 3% predicted in April. For 2021, IMF experts have projected growth of 5.4%, down from 5.8%. “We are projecting a somewhat less severe though still deep recession in 2020, relative to our June forecast,” said Gita Gopinath Economic Counsellor and Director of Research.
The struggle of humanity is now how to dribble past the ‘Great Pandemic’ in order to salvage a lean economic score. Botswana is already working on dwindling fiscal accounts, budget deficit, threatened foreign reserves and the GDP data that is screaming recession.
Latest data by think tank and renowned rating agency, Moody’s Investor Service, is that Botswana’s fiscal status is on the red and it is mostly because of its mineral-dependency garment and tourism-related taxation. Botswana decided to close borders as one of the containment measures of Covid-19; trade and travellers have been locked out of the country. Moody’s also acknowledges that closing borders by countries like Botswana results in the collapse of tourism which will also indirectly weigh on revenue through lower import duties, VAT receipts and other taxes.
Latest economic data shows that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2020 with a decrease of 27 percent. One of the factors that led to contraction of the local economy is the suspension of air travel occasioned by COVID-19 containment measures impacted on the number of tourists entering through the country’s borders and hence affecting the output of the hotels and restaurants industry. This will also be weighed down by, according to Moody’s, emerging markets which will see government losing average revenue worth 2.1 percentage points (pps) of GDP in 2020, exceeding the 1.0 pps loss in advanced economies (AEs).
“Fiscal revenue in emerging markets is particularly vulnerable to this current crisis because of concentrated revenue structures and less sophisticated tax administrations than those in AEs. Oil exporters will see the largest falls but revenue volatility is a common feature of their credit profiles historically,” says Moody’s. The domino effects of containment measures could be seen cracking all sectors of the local economy as taxes from outside were locked out by the closure of borders hence dwindling tax revenue.
Moody’s has placed Botswana among oil importers, small, tourism-reliant economies which will see the largest fall in revenue. Botswana is in the top 10 of that pecking order where Moody’s pointed out recently that other resource-rich countries like Botswana (A2 negative) will also face a large drop in fiscal revenue.
This situation of countries’ revenue on the red is going to stay stubborn for a long run. Moody’s predicts that the spending pressures faced by governments across the globe are unlikely to ease in the short term, particularly because this crisis has emphasized the social role governments perform in areas like healthcare and labour markets.
For countries like Botswana, these spending pressures are generally exacerbated by a range of other factors like a higher interest burden, infrastructure deficiencies, weaker broader public sector, higher subsidies, lower incomes and more precarious employment. As a result, most of the burden for any fiscal consolidation is likely to fall on the revenue side, says Moody’s.
Moody’s then moves to the revenue spin of taxation. The rating agency looked at the likelihood and probability of sovereigns to raise up revenue by increasing tax to offset what was lost in mineral revenue and tourism-related tax revenue. Moody’s said the capacity to raise tax revenue distinguishes governments from other debt issuers. “In theory, governments can change a given tax system as they wish, subject to the relevant legislative process and within the constraints of international law. In practice, however, there are material constraints,” says Moody’s.
‘‘The coronavirus crisis will lead to long-lasting revenue losses for emerging market sovereigns because their ability to implement and enforce effective revenue-raising measures in response will be an important credit driver over the next few years because of their sizeable spending pressures and the subdued recovery in the global economy we expect next year.’’
According to Moody’s, together with a rise in stimulus and healthcare spending related to the crisis, the think tank expects this drop in revenue will trigger a sizeable fiscal deterioration across emerging market sovereigns. Most countries, including Botswana, are under pressure of widening their tax bases, Moody’s says that this will be challenging. “Even if governments reversed or do not extend tax-easing measures implemented in 2020 to support the economy through the coronavirus shock, which would be politically challenging, this would only provide a modest boost to revenue, especially as these measures were relatively modest in most emerging markets,” says Moody’s.
Botswana has been seen internationally as a ‘tax ease’ country and its taxes are seen as lower when compared to its regional counterparts. This country’s name has also been mentioned in various international investigative journalism tax evasion reports. In recent years there was a division of opinions over whether this country can stretch its tax base. But like other sovereigns who have tried but struggled to increase or even maintain their tax intake before the crisis, Botswana will face additional challenges, according to Moody’s.
“Additional measures to reduce tax evasion and cutting tax expenditure should support the recovery in government revenue, albeit from low levels,” advised Moody’s. Botswana’s tax revenue to the percentage of the GDP was 27 percent in 2008, dropped to 23 percent in 2010 to 23 percent before rising to 27 percent again in 2012. In years 2013 and 2014 the percentage went to 25 percent before it took a slip to decline in respective years of 2015 up to now where it is at 19.8 percent.