The last few months have been dominated by the election campaign leading up to the general election on October 24th. Amongst the few economic issues that were prominent in the campaigns of the different parties, the problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality had perhaps the highest profile. There is no real disagreement that these are amongst the most pressing socioeconomic issues facing Botswana; however, there is much less agreement on how to successfully address them.
While these issues are crucial and need to be addressed, this must be done in the context of other pressing issues, including dealing with fiscal pressures as government revenues gradually decline in the medium to long term, and the need to restrain fiscal expenditure in order to keep the budget on a sustainable track. None of the parties really came up with a coherent plan for dealing with this, and indeed many of the election promises included unrealistic commitments for ever-greater spending.
Over the past few years, politicians have often stated that certain development projects could not proceed because of recession and adverse economic circumstances affecting the government budget, sometimes with a commitment that said project would proceed once economic circumstances improved. This may be a good way of deflecting pressure for excessive project spending, but it may also generate expectations that cannot be fulfilled.
A second pressing issue is the need to diversify exports and attract more FDI. Again, this was not really addressed in the election campaigns, and indeed all of the parties seemed more concerned with import substitution than promoting exports. In fact, none of the parties took time to adequately address pertinent economic issues, which is most disappointing, especially during the highly publicized pre-election debates.
Now that the election campaign is over, attention will turn to the development and finalisation of two key, closely related strategy and planning documents: the 11th National Development Plan, to run from 2016 to 2022, and the post-Vision 2016 document, which will cover the period of the next two-three NDPs. With the election out of the way, the government will have to ensure that these are completed quickly, but in a way that coherently addresses the key economic and social issues.
It will be important to recognise that there are many trade-offs in policymaking. Making rational decisions requires both clarification of objectives and a good understanding of the likely impact of competing policies and projects. Evidence-based policy making is essential if good use is to be made of limited resources, and if sensible decisions are to be made about which projects and programmes are to be financed.
However, this is difficult on the basis of Botswana’s current capacity to generate and analyse data and statistics. Significantly increased resources need to be provided for statistical and analytical capacity if appropriate policies and projects are to be implemented in NDP11, and subjected to proper monitoring and evaluation. Of more immediate interest is the forthcoming 2015/16 Budget next February. We have been given a flavour of what the 2015 Budget will say, in the Budget Strategy Paper released in September.
The BSP is a good initiative, which helps to keep stakeholders informed and encourage debate. It also helps to put information in the public domain at an earlier stage in the budgeting process, which in turn helps to improve understanding of economic conditions. From the 2015 BSP, we have learned that the preliminary outturn of the 2013/14 budget was more favourable than originally anticipated, with a fiscal surplus of P3.5 billion (2.8% of GDP). This was mainly due to underspending on the development budget. Clearly there still remains a major problem of implementation capacity and project management – given that many on-going projects are behind schedule, over budget, and only three-quarters of allocated funds for development projects were spent in 2013/14.
One of the most important elements of the BSP is the introduction of a new Fiscal Rule that commits government, for the first time, to allocate a fixed proportion – 40% is proposed – of mineral revenues to financial savings. In the past, there has been a commitment to invest mineral revenues in various forms of assets, but financial savings have always been a residual. Partly as a result of this, the financial assets accumulated by government over many years were relatively small and quickly depleted during and after the global financial crisis.
The Fiscal Rule is good, in principle, and in many respects is long overdue. However the implications need to be fully understood, in particular that the government will need to run large budget surpluses to finance the proposed savings. There also need to be hard and fast rules regarding drawdowns – the circumstances and conditions under which the accumulated savings be accessed.
Furthermore, government has repeatedly stated its intention to improve the screening and selection of development projects, such that only those yielding positive economic returns will be financed; if this commitment is adhered to – as it should be – some of the projects that are being called for in NDP11 will not pass the test. With the new Fiscal Rule in place, the focus will shift towards saving rather than spending, and as a result there will be less money rather than more for development projects.
Commentary adopted from Econsult ECONOMIC REVIEW – third quarter July – sept 2014
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.