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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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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

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Botswana ranked 129 in female MPs representation

26th July 2022
Minister of Finance & Economic Development Peggy Serame

The Global Gender Gap Index, a report published by the World Economic Forum annually, has indicated that Botswana is among countries that fare badly when it comes to representation of women in legislative bodies.

The latest Global Gender Gap Index, published last week, benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.

This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarked 146 countries. Of these, a subset of 102 countries have been represented in every edition of the index since 2006, further providing a large constant sample for time series analysis.

Botswana ranks number 66 overall (out of 146 countries), with good rankings in most of the pillars. Botswana ranks 1st in Health and Survival, 7th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity, 22nd in Educational Attainment, and 129th in Political Empowerment.

The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). The cross-country comparisons aim to support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.

The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour-force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative indicator gathered through the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar work).

Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).

The Educational Attainment sub-index captures the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education through the enrolment ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education. A longer-term view of the country’s ability to educate women and men in equal numbers is captured through the ratio of women’s literacy rate to men’s literacy rate.

Health and Survival sub-index provides an overview of the differences between women’s and men’s health using two indicators. The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women”, prevalent in countries with a strong son preference. Second, the index uses the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy.

This measure provides an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by accounting for the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other factors.
Political Empowerment sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions. In addition, the reported included the ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the last 50 years.

In the last general elections, only three women won elections, compared to 54 males. The three women are; Nnaniki Makwinja (Lentsweletau-Mmopane), Talita Monnakgotla (Kgalagadi North), and Anna Mokgethi (Gaborone Bonnington North). Four women were elected through Specially Elected dispensation; Peggy Serame, Dr Unity Dow, Phildah Kereng and Beauty Manake. All female MPs — save Dow, who resigned — are members of the executive.

Overall, Botswana has 63 seats, all 57 elected by the electorates, and six elected by parliament. Early this year, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general and Gaborone North MP, Mpho Balopi, successfully moved a motion in parliament calling for increment of elective seats from 57 to 61. Balopi contented that population growth demands the country respond by increasing the number of MPs.

In Africa, Botswana play second fiddle to countries like Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, and Zimbabwe who have better representation of women, with Rwanda being the only country with more than 50 percent of women in parliament.

The low number of women in parliament is attributed to Botswana’s current, electoral system, First-Past-the-Post. During the 9th parliament, then MP for Mahalapye East tabled a motion in parliament in which she sort to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs in parliament to augment female representation in the National Assembly.

The motion was opposed famously, by then Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, who said the citizens were not in favour of such a move since it dilute democracy, instead suggesting the Botswana should switch to Proportional-Representation-System. Botswana is currently undergoing Constitutional Review process, with the commission, appointed in December, expected to deliver the report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by September this year.

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