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Top bureaucrats denounce centralisation

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION PERMANENT SECRETARY: Richard Matlhare

Government chief administrators have come down hard on the centralisation policy, blaming it for inefficiencies experienced in taking government services to the people.


The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this week heard from various state accounting officers, who are chief administrators that the current policy in which all decision making is centred at central government instead of local authorities has failed dismally.


The Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ministry of Education and Skills development are two key ministries which have denounced the current system as prone to inefficiencies. MoH accounting officer, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Tebogo Banamile said centralisation has had a negative impact in service delivery at the ministry.


The government in 2009 following the general elections took charge of some responsibilities of which were previously held by local authorities (councils). This included provision of health services in clinics, maintenance and construction of roads, and provision of water services which has seen been taken over by Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) quasi-government institution.


Different ministries have been saddled with responsibilities which are enormous including allocation of resources and providing accommodation to their employees.   


MoESD accounting officer, Richard Matlhare also observed that his ministry, which is allocated the biggest portion of the national budget, has failed on most of its deliverables due to the huge work load the ministry is tasked with. Matlhare said, the ministry wants to outsource some responsibilities to regional officers and other stakeholders. He argued that this will give the ministry the opportunity to concentrate only on policy formulation and providing oversight.


Despite the MOESD having been allocated over 10 billion for the recurred budget, the ministry is responsible for P1.8 billion, while the rest was administered to different departments under the ministry. It is against this background that Matlhare argued that since different departments under the ministry used more than 50 percent of the money allocated to the ministry, they should be given more powers to make decisions and more authority on their duties.


The Ministry, which has over the years experienced decline in education also made a startling admission that it was not aware of how much it is owed by graduates. Over P2 billion has been splashed annually on tertiary education tuition for government sponsorship.


Efforts to recover the money have not been fruitful over the past years and in 2013 the government resolved to engage Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) in order to track down employed graduates who were sponsored by the government to start paying back the money. The proposed arrangement has since been delayed due to too much bureaucracy.


With centralisation proving to be a headache for heads of government ministries, it still remains to be seen whether the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) at party level will adopt decentralisation which will give powers mostly to local authorities.

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