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Mascom loses bitter money war with BOCRA

Mascom Wireless Botswana has lost with costs a case in which it had sought a review of the lawfulness of a directive promulgated by the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA), to regulate the Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs) in Botswana. Mascom wireless says the rates as set by BOCRA are very low and wants them increased.

Many in the industry see Mascom’s bitter fight as an effort to protect the revenue it was making from Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs) since it has the largest subscriber based when compared to other operators. The directive sets out charges that mobile network operators charge each other for network interconnection. Botswana telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) and Orange Botswana were also cited as second and third respondent but they chose to be spectators in this regulatory dispute.

Mascom wanted the court to determine if in issuing regulatory directive No1 of 2017 on the 24th March 2017, determining the charges that the mobile network operators have to charge each other for network interconnections, BOCRA had acted in accordance with its statutory obligations to take regulatory decisions in the open, transparent, accountable, proportionate and objective manner in terms of the Communications Regulatory Authority Act.

The mobile operator was also skeptical as to whether BOCRA acted duly in terms of its common law duty, arising under public administrative law, to act fairly and in accordance with the legitimate expectations it had created with the operators that it would, regarding the charges in case, complete the consultation process in which it was engaged with the operators. In essence Mascom Wireless is of the view that the directive that was issued by BOCRA is illegal, irrational, improper and wanted it reviewed and set aside.

On 24th March 2017, BOCRA issued a directive that set Mobile Termination Rules that were to apply on 1st June 2017 and further directed operators – Mascom, BTC and Orange – to review their prices to remove the Off Net Mobile voice calls by 1st June 2018. The Judge, Leburu was informed that Mobile Termination Rates (MTR) are wholesale rates per minute that the operators charge each other for voice calls that terminate in their respective networks, but that originate from one of the other operators’ networks.

Explained further, if a mobile telephone customer of Mascom makes a voice call to a customer of Orange, Mascom has to pay Orange for enabling the Mascom customer’s call to be connected to the Orange customer’s mobile telephone device via Orange network.
The stated purpose of the said directive was to implement the final recommendations of the 2016 Cost Model and Pricing Framework Study. The said Study was conducted by a United Kingdom firm of consultants named Interconnect Communications Ltd. There was a consultation process following the final report which was preceded by an interim report in March 2016 and the draft final report was delivered in September 2016.

“Before the draft reports and final draft report were submitted, consultation with the operators, spanning 14 months was done and presentations were made to the operators during information sessions about the project or study,” the court was told.  It was further revealed that following upon public notice to all relevant stakeholders about the study, BOCRA initiated a one-on-one project meetings with each of the operators in January 2016. At this meetings a presentation was made to each of the operators, including Mascom.

It was shared in court that data from Mascom and other operators was used as inputs to populate the first Draft Cost Model. In March 2016, BOCRA issued the interim Report on cost modeling and pricing framework. Evidence presented before the court indicates that on March 22nd 2016, a stakeholder consultative workshop was held whereat all stakeholders were granted an opportunity to make presentations, responses and input on the issues described in the interim report. “Mascom elected not to make oral presentations at the workshop. Instead, it chose to subsequently submit written comments on the interim report on 11th April 2016.

“Mascom acknowledged as a starting point that the approach in the interim report was “well balanced and sensible approach with respect to the considerations made on the key issues that underpin the development of costs models and a pricing framework suitable for Botswana.”  It further made its presentations with respect to potential remedies to the pricing issues on off-net compared to “on-net” voice tariffs. BOCRA then made a consolidated report based on the submissions made by all including Mascom. 

After a collective meeting with Mascom, Orange and BTCL whereat a presentation on the project status was given to the operators, a draft final report which set the preliminary results of the study was issued by BOCRA on September 2016. All stakeholders including Mascom were once again given an opportunity to make presentations and Mascom obliged through its written representations on the 24th October 2016.

Mascom at this stage made complaints that it had not been furnished with full access to the cost model, for purposes of verifying and validating the costs results; Mascom also complained that the level of the MTRs set out in the draft final report were too low. BOCRA however proceeded and came up with a draft final report and shared it with Mascom and other stakeholders on 29th November 2016. On 17 January 2017 BOCRA held a meeting with Mascom to afford it an opportunity to raise its concerns on the Draft Final report.

Mascom further raised its concerns on the study and arising from such concerns three teleconferences between Mascom and consultants were conducted and one was on the 31st January 2017. BOCRA Board on 6th March 2017 adopted the final report but modified the recommendation of a three year glide path and adopted a two year glide path. “It was the reduction from the three years to the two years that formed Mascom’s casus belli, hence the present review application.”

MASCOM’s QUALMS

According to Mascom, at all relevant times during the consultation period, the consultants and BOCRA executive management team, conveyed to the operators that a reduction in the MTRs will be implemented over a three year glide path period. Mascom contended that the three year glide path period was effected by the BOCRA Board without prior notice or consultation and further that it legitimately expected that a three year glide path would be implemented and that if BOCRA was minded to vary same, it should have give Mascom a further hearing. Mascom argued that the consultation process was incomplete.

“Although attacking the entire process leading to the issuance of the said directive, is not seeking to set aside the entire directive. Mascom’s sharp pointed arsenal is directed at paragraphs 11.2 and 11.3 of the said directive dealing with MTRs,” observed Judge Leburu. Currently Mobile Termination Rates excluding VAT stand at 0.295 and by 1st June 2017 they were at 0.220 and on 1st June 2018 MTRs will be 0.130. Mascom wants these provisions set aside on grounds of irrationality, unlawfulness and unfairness. “Interestingly, other operators Orange Botswana and BTCL have adopted a passive role and have filed notices to abide by the court’s decision,” Judge Leburu noted.

JUDGE QUASHES MASCOM

Judge Leburu found that the regulator in BOCRA invited relevant stakeholders to participate in the study at formative stages before the directive was promulgated. He also established that several documents that information was shared by the regulator, its consultants and the operators. He further pointed out that workshops were held in addition to telephone and teleconference ng. Further drafts interim reports were prepared, shared and revised up until version 13 (Draft Final report). The Judge noted that Mascom fully participated in the consultation process, right from inception of the study, up to including the preparation of the Draft Final Report.

“The process of consultation was thus open and transparent.” He dismissed Mascom’s assertion that the consultation process was incomplete and inchoate, “in my view, it is bereft of substance,” he said. The Judge also noted that it is in the public interest that a consultation process must at some point come to an end so that certainty and predictability can prevail.  He said the directive was issued for public good, particularly the reduction of MTRs rates as well as Off-net and On-net tariffs.

“The decision by BOCRA, within the context of its decision making powers in my view, demonstrates that a reasonable and rational choice and decision was made by BOCRA.” Mascom’s application was dismissed with costs, inclusive of costs related to engagement of Senior Counsel.

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Education system in Botswana deteriorating

27th September 2021
Education system in Botswana deteriorating..

Access to and achievement in education in Botswana is said to be unequal. This is revealed in a new study by the United Nations, collaborating with other development partners and stakeholders. The report indicates that twenty thousand children in Botswana are not in school.

Children in marginalized communities have less access to education than their more affluent, urban peers. While primary education is free and compulsory under the Children’s Act, primary education is not free for children of foreign nationality. Moreover, cost barriers such as transport costs and materials such as textbooks place a higher burden on poorer families.

This report has been stated that limited awareness of the importance of Early Childhood Education (ECE) among policymakers has contributed to a lack of appropriate funding mechanisms, infrastructure, and equipment for ECE. The study indicated that only 30 per cent of children aged 3 to 6 years have access to preschool education, which remains driven by the private sector and therefore unaffordable for the less privileged. Children in remote areas especially have limited access to ECE.

This unequal access directly affects children’s (impoverished children’s) equal learning and cognitive development opportunities. The burden of unpaid childcare indirectly affects women’s ability to start a business, enter the labour force and access decent employment and professional training opportunities. Further, the poor and rural youth are more susceptible to dropping out of school or not registering for school.

It was also stressed that forty-nine per cent of the poorest youth finish school between ages 15–18 compared to 36 per cent among the richest. Distance from the school is a factor that limits the ability of children in rural areas to access education. Cost-sharing may be another factor for children in poor and rural families, the UN study said. Cost-sharing fees were introduced in 2006 and set at a level equivalent to 5 per cent of the cost to the Government of providing secondary education, with a provision for exemption for children from destitute families, orphans, students in need of care and registered with the Social Welfare Services and students whose parents are terminally ill and incapable of caring for the student materially low-income households.

Fees per child were set at BWP 300 a year for Junior Secondary and BWP 450 a year for Senior Secondary schools. Students from households whose total earnings are less than BWP 550 per month receive a partial exemption if they have more than one child in secondary school. UN highlighted that poorer students also fare less well in educational attainment: students from the wealthiest 25 per cent of households score on average 23 per cent higher than their peers from the poorest 25 per cent of households in reading and 15 per cent higher in math. Compared to other countries in the region, Botswana has a more significant gap in attainment across income groups.

In the three rounds of the international assessment programme carried out by the Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ), the difference between the average score and the score for the poorest quarter of students was only 17 points in Swaziland, 19 points in Lesotho, and 39 points in Namibia. However, it was a high of 68 points in Botswana, not far behind the 72 points in South Africa. Statelessness is another challenge for children accessing the education system since the lack of appropriate documentation makes it harder to register for school.

A significant number of children, the UN report stated, particularly children in remote areas and nomadic communities, refugee and asylum-seeking children, abandoned children and children living in alternative care institutions, face barriers in accessing birth registration, which negatively affects their right to a nationality and subsequently impedes the realization of other rights.

To prevent statelessness and reach universal registration, Botswana has been recommended to address administrative obstacles, expand health facility-based birth registration centres and mobile registration campaigns and raise awareness regarding the importance of birth registration. Asylum-seeking and refugee children face challenges in access to and attainment within education.

Children in the Dukwi camp receive basic education but cannot access higher learning institutions because the Government does not provide funding or support. There has been an increase in failure rates at secondary education final examinations since youth lack motivation about their future. Parents are prohibited from engaging in any form of work and are unable to provide funding for their children’s further education.

“There have been instances where students have forfeited scholarships offered outside Botswana due to the inability to access travel documentation. Children from minority groups in Botswana face challenges in accessing education, partly due to the absence of mother-tongue education,” reads part of the report.  The report of the Special Rapporteur on minority issues highlights that despite the adoption of the system of hostel accommodation for children from minority groups, many of these children still ran away or performed poorly. Therefore, it was recommended that the Government adopt new educational policies allowing the teaching of minority languages and their use as a medium of instruction in private schools.

The report further recommended, “the development of policies for public schools to teach and use minority languages as the medium of instruction where this is reasonably possible and where numbers warrant, to the degree appropriate and applying the principle of proportionality”. Lack of trained educators and support workers, geographical distance to school, and social norms and stigma contribute to excluding children with disabilities from school.

One-tenth of students with disabilities in Botswana reported stopping attending school because of difficulty in getting to school. Integration of children with disabilities into mainstream schools is limited, and children with disabilities are usually segregated into specific schools.
When students with disabilities attend mainstream school, learning support, including appropriate teaching material, can be inadequate: primary school students with disabilities in Botswana who attended mainstream schools reported that, although they appreciated being in inclusive classrooms, parts of the curriculum were inaccessible to them.

Adolescent girls and young women are also at risk of exclusion from education, mainly because of early pregnancy. Female dropout exceeds that of their male counterparts across Forms 3–5. Higher rates of female dropout are found in the Central, Southern, North West, Kweneng and South East Regions. Pregnancy tends to be the main reason for female youth dropout and also accounts for the higher level of grade repetition among female youth across Forms 3–5. In 2015, the highest number of repeating students recorded were in Central and North West Regions.

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Gov’t halts stimulus programme & other mega projects 

27th September 2021
Trade Minister: Peggy Serame

The ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a blow to the economic stimulus package and national development projects – it has forced the Government to halt some projects earmarked for the current national budget. 

The Government has also decided to reduce budgets running into millions for ongoing national projects and those of the ambitious economic stimulus programme (ESP), introduced in 2015 to ‘stimulate the economy. The funds would now be reallocated to finance COVID-19 expenses.
This revelation is contained in a document released recently by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, which for the first time gives a breakdown of how most of the development project budget would be either halted or cut and their earmarked funds reallocated to fight COVID-19.

The Government says the money needed to halt and cut budgets from ministries and reallocated to COVID-19 amounts to P2.3 billion. Some of the projects that would be affected by this decision fall under the economic stimulus package programme. Already political and economic experts warn that the adjustments, if not well managed, may deal a big blow to Masisi’s legacy. According to the document, the annual budget for the Ministry of Basic Education will be reduced by P380 000 000 from P1 317 000 000 to P937 000 000 in the 2021/2022 Financial Year.

“Specifically, the budget for the following projects are being reduced as follows: Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) Expansion by P50 000 000, ESP Staff Houses by P50 000 000; ESP Maintenance by P50 000 000, Maintenance of Senior Secondary Schools by P75 000 000 and Secondary School Expansion – COVID Classrooms (ERTP) by P155 000 000. Most of the project activities have not started,” states the document.

The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, the infrastructure development proposal will reduce the Ministry’s Infrastructure Development project budget by P25 000 000 from P26 400 000 to P1 400 000 in the 2021/2022 Financial Year. The funds are earmarked for SSKIA SEZ -Design & Construction of 4 Investors Advance Factories, which has not started.

Another proposal is to reduce the Ministry’s computerisation project budget by P1 500 000 from P9 500 000 to P8 000 000 in the 2021/2022 Financial Year. The funds are earmarked for the Design and Development of the Internal MITI Trade and Industry Statistics Database, which has not started.

The other proposal is to reduce the Doing Business Reforms project budget by P2 000 000 from P26 400 000 to P24 400 000 in the 2021/2022 Financial Year. The funds are earmarked for the Development of an e-Commerce Strategy for Botswana, which has been delayed.
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development would have to reduce its social welfare programme budget for the 2021/2022 Development by P120 000 000 from P591 809 298 to P471 809 298 to meet Government’s urgent needs relating to COVID-19 response and Tertiary Education financing.

“The budget for the following programmes: Ipelegeng programme (P100 000 000), Destitute Housing – Remote Area Development Programme (RADP) (P10 000 000) and Countrywide Destitute Housing (P10 000 000) are proposed for reduction,” reads the document.
The Ministry of Local Government Infrastructure Investment and Services’ 2021/2022 Development budget is to be decreased by P170 200 000 from P528 609 298 to P428 609 298 to meet Government’s urgent needs related to COVID-19 and Tertiary Education financing.

“The affected projects are Gaborone Transfer Station and Waste Sorting Centre (P10 200 000), Legolas Road (P40 000 000), Mopane-Block 8 Road (P40 000 000), Tlokweng Internal Roads (ERTP) (P40 000 000), and Mogoditshane Internal (ERTP) (P40 000 000),” the document says.
The Development of Primary Education Services for the 2021/22 Development budget is to be decreased by P145 000 000 from P554 000 000 to P409 000 000 to meet Government’s urgent requirements related to COVID-19.

“The proposal is to reduce the provision for the following programmes; Primary Schools Facilities Backlog Eradication Project- ERTP – All Districts (P45 000 000) and Construction of New Primary Schools ERTP 7- Districts (P100 000 000),” the document reads in part.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Corporation, which drafted the document, would have its Statistical Survey and Studies programme annual budget reduced due to delays in starting the 2021 Population and Housing Census. According to the document, the programme’s yearly funding decreases by P100 000 000 from P279 294 304 to P179 294 304.

The Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs’ Computerisation programme for 2021/2022 budget need to be decreased by P26 200 000 from P27 200 000 to P1 000 000; the funds were allocated for two projects being Integrated System Project as well as Upgrading of the National Identification System (NIS) and Births & Deaths Registration System whose implementation has been delayed and currently at consultation stage with various stakeholders.

The document also shows that the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security’s 2021/2022 Revision Agriculture Support Schemes budget is expected to be decreased by P200 000 000 from P580 000 000 to P380 000 000 in the 2021/2022 Financial Year.
The affected programmes are: (a) Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development II reduced by P50 000 000), (b) MOA Support reduced by P50 000 000 and (c) Agriculture Infrastructure Development (ERTP) reduced by P100 000 000, to meet Government’s urgent needs relating to COVID-19 pandemic containment and shortfall under the Tertiary Education Financing.

The Ministry’s annual budget would be reduced by P64 500 000 from P313 500 000 to P249 000 000. The affected projects are reduced as follows: upgrading the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources by P50 000 000, Semele Infrastructure by P10 000 000, Refurbishment of Moan Headquarters by P1 500 000 and Refurbishment of Moan Buildings at Extension areas by P3 000 000. Most of the project activities have not started.

The Ministry’s annual Research Support Programme needs to be reduced by P20 000 000 from P40 000 000 to P20 000 000 under the National Agricultural Research and Development Institute (NARDI) project to meet Government’s urgent needs relating mainly to COVID-19 response and Tertiary Education financing.  The Ministry of Mineral, Resources, Green Technology and Energy proposal is to reduce the Mineral Resources Exploration programme budget by P5 000 000 from P25 347 911 to P20 347 911 in the 2021/2022 Financial Year. The funds are earmarked for the Rehabilitation of Old Mines, which has been delayed.

“The 2021/2022 Development budget is to be decreased by P4 000 000 from P63 556 400 to P59 556 400 to meet Government’s urgent priorities mainly related to COVID-19 and Tertiary Education financing. The proposal is to reduce the provision for the Energy Efficiency project as some activities have not started,” the document shows.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness’ annual budget for this programme needs to be decreased by P2 000 000 to cater to ongoing government commitments largely under COVID-19 response and Tertiary Education financing. The proposal is to reduce the Health Care Standard project budget as the project has not started. It says the annual budget of this programme is being reduced by P26 000 000 from P138 900 000 to P112 000 000. The proposal is to reduce the funding for the construction of a new Health post in Borotsi in (Sefhare-Ramokgonami Constituency) (P3 000 000), Upgrading of Maunatlala Clinic (P3 000 000), Construction of Mini-Health Centres (P10 000 000) and Public Officers’ Housing Initiative (POHI) (P10 000 000). The available balance is sufficient to carry out the implementation of the projects this financial year.

The Ministry’s budget document says the Maunatlala clinic, which falls under the Ministry portfolio, is being reduced by P100 000 000 from P278 350 000 to P178 350 000 from the ministry’.  “The proposal is to reduce the budget for Upgrading of Gumare Hospital (70 beds) (P30 000 000), which is currently at the design stage. The other project is the Upgrading of Tutume Hospital (70 beds) (P70 000 000). The drawings for the project are currently being assessed for adequacy and functionality by the Ministry,” it says.

Concerning the Ministry’s computerisation, the document says the annual budget of this programme is being reduced by P12 000 000. The proposal is to reduce the Quality Information Management System (P10 000 000) and e-Health (P2 000 000) projects. The project has not started yet.  The document says the facilitation of elections under the Independent of Electoral Commission (IEC) was reduced by P4 000 000 from P10 612 440 to P6 612 440. The proposal is to reduce the Review of electoral processes (P2 000 000) and Automation of Records Management (P2 000 000) projects. The project has been delayed for Botswana National Archives and Records Services (BNARS) to assess automation rollout readiness.

The document speaks to the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research Science and Technology (MOTE) ‘s Research and Development Programme. It says the 2021/2022 annual budget provision for the programme will need to be reduced by P10 000 000 from P43 500 000 to P33 500 000 to meet Governments’ urgent needs related to COVID-19 response.  “The funds were allocated for the Provision of Staff Residential Accommodation for Directorate on Corruption, and Economic Crime (DCEC) project and construction has not yet started,” the document states.

For the Ministry of Presidential Affairs Governance and Public Administration computerisation programme, the document says, “the E-Cabinet project entails digitising Cabinet proceedings and records. The project’s 2021/2022 annual budget provision is P4 000 000”. However, the project has not started pending a detailed scope of the Ministry of Transport and Communications.  The project is being delayed to augment funds for COVID-19 related costs.

The document says the annual budget of the Social Protection and Preparedness programme is being reduced by P11 500 000 from P53 500 000 to P42 000 000 to augment funds for COVID–19 related costs.  It says the available balance is sufficient to complete the ongoing projects under this programme.

The annual budgeting for strengthening the counter-terrorism and fusion agency programme is reduced by P42 620 000 from P46 396 130 to P3 776 130 to augment funds for COVID–19 related interventions. The document states that the document adds that the project implementation for procurement of ICT Infrastructure has not started.

As for the Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, one of them dubbed broadening the base adding that the annual budget of this programme is being reduced by P7 000000 from P77 900 000 to P70 900 000 to meet Government’s urgent needs largely elated to COVID-19 response and Tertiary Education financing.

It says the proposal is to reduce the provision for the Development and Marketing of a Swapping Tourism Trail (P1 000 000), District Monuments Development Programme (P1 000 000), Botanical Garden (P5 000 000) and Development of Campsites in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and Chutes Game Reserves (P2 000 00).

For the Ministry of Minerals project, the document says that one of the programmes is being reduced by P80 000 000 from P181 000 000 to P101 000 000 to meet the Government’s priority needs primarily related to COVID-19 response and Tertiary Education financing. The proposal, the report says, is to reduce the provision for the Kasane Kazungula Redevelopment Project.

It says that under the Wildlife Management Species project, the annual budget of this programme is being reduced by P4 000 000 from P47 250 000 to P43 250 000 to meet the Governments’ new objectives related to COVID-19. The proposal is to reduce the Water Reticulation (P2 000 000) and Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) Camps (P2 000 000) projects.

The document says Environmental Protection under the same Ministry. The annual budget of this programme is being reduced by P6 500 000 from P31 000 000 to P24 500 000 to meet the Government’s urgent commitments primarily related to COVID-19 response and Tertiary Education financing.  The proposal is to reduce the Greening of MENT (Ministry of Environment Natural Resources and Tourism) and DMS headquarters building (P2 000 000), Establishment of a Centralised Hazardous Waste Treatment & Disposal Facility (P2 500 000) and Botswana Early Warning Hydrological system (P2 000 000).

The document shows that the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture will have to reduce its budget earmarked for its infrastructure development.  “The annual budget of this programme is being reduced by P33 000 000 from P41 145 000 to P8 145 000. The proposal is to reduce the Francistown Stadium Roof project. The Ministry has written to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing (MIH) to assist in the facilitation of the project,” the document shows.

As for infrastructure maintenance, the Ministry of Housing and Development budget will also have to be reduced.  The document says that the annual budget of this programme is being reduced by P20 000 000 from P157 079 930 to P137 079 930. “The proposal is to reduce the provision for the following projects: The Mahalapye Department of Facilities Management (P3 500 000), Refurbishment Gaborone Industrial Department of Facilities Management office (P3 000 000), Refurbishment Shake Department of Facilities Management (DFM) office (P4 500 000), Refurbishment Broad Hurst DFM office (P3 000 000) and Government Building Consultancy (P6 000 000),” shows the report.

It says the annual budget of the computerisation programme is being reduced by P14 000 000 to meet Government’s priorities related to COVID-19 response and Tertiary Education financing in the main.  The proposal is to reduce the provision for the ICT Equipment (P5 000 000), Automation of MIH Services (P1 000 000) and Local Area Network (LAN) Upgrade (P8 000 000) projects.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications’ infrastructure budget would be reduced, which would lower the annual budget of this programme P247 000 000 from P1 338 356 000 to P 1 141 356 000 to meet the Government’s urgent needs related principally to COVID-19 response and Tertiary Education financing.  “The proposal is to reduce the provision for the Nata-Kasane road (P20 000 000), Francistown-Nata-Maun Mohembo (P80 000 000), Gaborone Eastern-By-Pass (P50 000 000), A1 Dulling (P50 000 000), Palapye-Matins Drift (P32 000 000), Mmathethe-Bray-Werra road (P15 000, 000),” according to the document.

It says the railway infrastructure’s annual budget of this programme is being reduced by P247 000 000 from P1 338 356 000 to P 1 141 356 000 to meet Government’s priorities mainly related to COVID-19 and Tertiary Education financing. The budget would be reduced for the following projects: Trans- Kalahari Railway Link (P15 000 000), Mmamabula-Lephalale Railway Link, Optimal Utilisation of the Dry port at Walvis Bay (P20 000 000) and Development of the Inland Dry Ports (P20 000 000). Some of the projects have experienced delays in implementation due to COVID-19 protocols that continue to be enforced.

The Ministry of Defence Justice and Security’s project that will be affected is the strengthening of Botswana Police Services as the 2021/22 Development budget is being decreased by P65 000 000 from P411 900 000 to P346 900 000 to meet Government’s urgent needs related to COVID-19 and Tertiary Education financing.

The document is to reduce the proposal is to reduce the budget for the following projects: Construction of Posts and Base Camps (P10 000 000), Provision of Staff Houses (P40 000 000), Block 10 Police Station (Office Block) (P5 000 000) and Letlhakeng Police Station and Houses (P10 000 000).

“The 2021/22 strengthening of prisons services development budget is being decreased by P25 000 000 from P155 505 587 to P130 505 587 to meet Government’s binding commitments under the national COVID-19 response and Tertiary Education financing in the main. The proposal is to reduce the budget for the following: Fencing for Prison Facilities (P10 000 000); Staff Houses – Department of Prisons (P10 000 000); and Construction of High-Security Wing at Thane Prison (P5 000 000),” the document reads.

As for the Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development facilities programme needs to be decreased by P21 000 000 from P99 654 000 to P78 654 000.  “The proposal is to reduce the budget for the Rapid Skill Centres (P12 000 000) and Construction of Emergency Evacuation Access at Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC) Hostels (P9 000 000). BNPC is at the initial stages of procurement.

The annual budget of the computerisation programme needs to be decreased by P1 800 000 from P21 937 000 to P20 137 000. These funds will be sourced from the BNPC Computerization project (P1 800 000), whose implementation has been delayed due to COVID-19 protocols,” the document says.

The Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research Science and Technology will also have its annual budget for the research programme to be decreased by P10 000 000 from P112 473 300 to P102 473 300 to cater for Government’s urgent needs mainly related to COVID-19 national response and Tertiary Education financing.

The document says the proposal is to reduce the Implementation of Research, Science, Technology (RST) and Innovation (Plan) – Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) Review; Technology Foresighting; Square Kilometer Array (SKA); and Space Science Strategy, whose implementation has been delayed. Apart from the more than P2.3 billion requested from Government, the Government had announced that it had set aside P2 billion and other funds from the private sector and other donors, which amounted to millions of Pula to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Elders to meet Masisi over BDP ‘factions’

27th September 2021
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi

President Mokgweetsi Masisi is scheduled to meet Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) elders to discuss the state of the party upon his return from the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in the United States.  The purpose of the meeting is to establish the President’s relationship with his cabinet and what he knows about the reported burgeoning factions within the party.

There is an air of disunity within the ruling party, with some senior ministers said to be pulling in different because of numerous unexplained transactions. The faction, reportedly led by three ministers, is said to gain traction in the party, with most backbenchers closing ranks with them.
BDP veterans, also known as the Elders’ Council, are a recognised structure in the party. Article 24.2 of the BDP constitution says the mandate of the Elders Council include investigations, arbitration, and reconciliation of differences and disputes where necessary within the party structure and or members.

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