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Gov’t reviews NDP 10, compiles NDP 11


As the National Development Plan (NDP 10) comes to a close, the main focus area for NDP 11 will be to institutionalise the planning, monitoring and evaluation of development impact/outcome system.

According to Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MoFDP) policy paper for NDP 11, it highlights that it is critical that NDP 11 projects and programmes designed by Ministries should be in consonance with the requirements of the proposed Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) policy infrastructure.

“It is therefore critical that a robust M&E be fully implemented in NDP 11, as part of the result-based approach to development planning in the country,” MoFDP policy paper reads.

NDP 10 review relative to M&E:

The lack of emphasis on impact and outcomes of projects and programmes, coupled with the absence of a strong monitoring and evaluation system have made it difficult to analyse and diagnose  alternative sources of growth for the economy during NDP 10, states the MoFDP policy paper.

Although the monitoring and evaluation system was first introduced in NDP 10, and a comprehensive system was to be implemented through the establishment of project management offices in ministries to, amongst others, manage periodic evaluation studies.


According to the policy paper, despite the strategic need and the usefulness of the establishment of the National Monitoring and Evaluation Systems (NMES) in NDP 10, there were challenges that led to very limited success in establishing the system. Some of the challenges arose from lack of a systematic measurement of the expected results, it states.


“The absence of evaluation programmes and policies coupled with unavailability of trained personnel in monitoring and evaluation rendered a further blow to the implementation of the programme. Lack of a common understanding of M&E issues and the absence of a robust institutional infrastructure to support the system was yet another cause for failure of the scheme to take off.”


As such to address the matter, it is understood that the National Strategy Office (NSO) has since developed a national monitoring and evaluation system (NMES) based on readiness assessment performed by the office.

The paper states that the proposed NMES policy infrastructure will consist of the internal M&E units housed at respective ministries, with the central M&E unit located at NSO.

“The monitoring and reporting of results will take place at ministerial level, while rule setting, facilitation of measuring and reporting of results will be done by NSO in collaboration with Thematic Working Groups (TWGs) and the MFDP,” it posits.

Meanwhile, the Mid-Term Review of NDP 10 showed that the domestic economic performance withstood the global financial crisis underpinned by the performance of the non-mining sectors. However, the country’s external and fiscal balances were adversely affected by the crisis, due to their direct exposure to the diamond mining.


According to the policy paper, while the global financial crisis is officially over, slow recovery in major economies of the US and Europe continues to pose serious economic challenges for Botswana, as these economies remain the main markets for the country’s exports. As a result, it says the country should brace for slow growth scenarios, which underscores the need for new initiatives to transform the economy during NDP 11.


Economic outlook for NDP 11

According to the ministry document, the economic outlook for the NDP 11 period is that the three major sources of government revenues namely; diamond revenues, SACU revenues and income from taxes and fees, do not portray a possible increase in the available resources for the Plan.

NDP 11, therefore, it submits that needs to aim at a high Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate to bolster government revenues. The policy paper submits that, this can be achieved through appreciable productivity improvements, identification of and pursuit of alternative sources of growth, investments in productive human capital development, improved quality of public investments and a focus on results/impacts through “monitoring and evaluation.”

“Since productivity is a key driver of economic growth, it is necessary for NDP11 to come up with a target rate of growth for this indicator. This will, amongst others, show how the nagging problem of unemployment will decrease should the target be met. Similarly, challenging but realistic targets should be set for unemployment (e.g. single digit) and eradication of abject poverty.”

Dependence on diamonds

The paper states that the heavy dependence of the Government budget on the exhaustible diamond resource also requires that a balance should be struck between short term fiscal policy objectives and the promotion of long term fiscal sustainability. The need, it says to allocate benefits from this resource between current and a future generation is critical for sustainable development to be achieved.

“In this respect, the implementation of NDP 11 will be guided by a fiscal rule that takes cognizance of the difference between the use of mineral revenues and non-mineral revenues to finance the development and recurrent budgets.”

To address this issue, the paper further points out that, “MFDP will propose a new fiscal rule for approval by Government. The fiscal rule will specify the amount of non-mineral revenues that should be used to finance the recurrent budget, as well as the apportionment of mineral revenues between financing the development budget and savings for future generations.”

Other key issues for NDP 11

Other key issues for NDP 11 identified in the keynote policy paper is the need to put in place policy initiatives to promote inclusive growth, whose dimensions are: efficiency in enlarging the size of the economy; increasing productive employment opportunities; and providing protection for the disadvantaged and marginalized groups from adverse shocks.

These dimensions of inclusive growth are linked to the mandates of the four Thematic Working Groups (TWGs), which would be expected to lead in proposing specific strategies and initiatives, as part of their input on the national priorities.

“The most critical issues for NDP 11 identified in the paper include: total factor productivity, human capital development, quality of public investment, and need for monitoring and evaluation system. These, in turn, form the national priorities for the NDP 11.”

The list of critical issues in the policy paper is not exhaustive, it says and others will be identified during the preparation of the Plan. However, it emphasizes that there will be need for clear and innovative policy initiatives on each of these focal areas in NDP 11, if the country is to achieve the economic transformation needed to tackle the three development challenges of unemployment, poverty eradication and income inequality.

On the fiscal front, the MoFDP document highlighted that the country continues to face the challenge of the uncertainty over its main revenue sources of mineral and customs. The diamond mining outlook in NDP 10, it states, was that the current open cast mining will be replaced by underground mining in the next 10-15 years. In that event, it further states that this would happen in the third year of NDP 11.

“The latest information indicates that this scenario has changed and as a result the life of the diamonds mines will be extended by a few decades. This notwithstanding, the policy stance of promoting non-mining private sector driven growth should be continued. This means that any surpluses that may result from increased mineral revenues should be used to rebuild the country’s net foreign assets. Moreover, experience from the recent economic and financial crisis has demonstrated that there is merit in building up significant amounts of reserves for purposes of managing economic shocks.”

Similarly, the paper purports that the future of customs revenues remains uncertain due to the protracted negotiations over the revenue sharing formula. The renegotiations of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) revenue sharing arrangement have been going on for some time now. Whereas the guiding principle for the negotiations is that, no member state should be worse off, there is a real danger that customs revenue may experience a precipitous fall should the on- going SACU negotiations collapse.

This, coupled with the occasional volatility of diamond prices, presents the Government with a challenge to put in place measures for future fiscal sustainability; hence the adoption of the fiscal rule for the country. An equally important component of the fiscal rule would be expenditure management in terms of both quantity and quality.

“This means that, strict criteria for prioritization of programmes and projects to be included in NDP 11 will have to be adopted, while the implementation of projects should be based on a rigorous appraisal of their socio-economic returns to the country,” policy paper posits.

The road to implementation of NDP 11

The paper states that preparation of NDP 11, therefore, comes at a time when the country is at crossroads with respect to its development model of prudent economic management and rapid real GDP growth.

“This is because, despite the rapid economic growth over the past four decades after its independence, the country continues to face development challenges such as unemployment, poverty, income inequality and a relatively undiversified economy.”

Addressing these challenges, it says in the context of the recent slowdown in economic growth will therefore become even more challenging; hence an urgent need to adopt policies and strategies that can structurally transform the economy during NDP 11.

Meanwhile Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo has told parliament last week that the government has extended the commencement of NDP 11 from the original date of April 2016 to April 2017, to allow for completion of the next national Vision beyond 2016 – as the new vision essentially will inform the finalisation of NDP 11.

 

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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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