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Post-election: Focus should turn to NDP11 and much-needed reforms


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
 

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BAD WEEK FOR MANCHESTER CITY

6th February 2023

After falling to close the gap on Arsenal by losing to a record breaking goal by Kane at the Tottenham stadium.Manchester City now find themselves being charged by the Premier League with more than 100 breaches of its financial rules following a four-year investigation.

According to BBC , it has referred the club to an independent commission over alleged rule breaches between 2009 and 2018 , and also that Man-city has not been co-operating since the investigation which started in 2018 .

BBC further states that The commission can impose punishment including a fine , points deduction and expelling the club from the Premier league.

The alleged breaches include ,  breaching rules for requiring full details of manager remuneration,from 2009-2010, to 2012-2013 seasons when Roberto Mancini was in charge . Also player remuneration between 2010-2011 and 2015-2016.

The Premier league stated that City breached rules related to UEFA regulations , including Financial Fair Play , from 2013-2014 to 2017-2018 ,as well as Premier League rules on profitability and sustainability from 2014-2016 to 2017-2018

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South Korean Embassy aids students living with disabilities

6th February 2023

South Korean Ambassador in South Africa has donated e-learning equipment through Botswana Red Cross Society (BRCS) to Tlamelong Rehabilitation Centre in Tlokweng recently, in a bid to fine tune the student’s textile skills.  

When talking at the handing over ceremony, Chull-Joo Park, said they agreed with BRCS to give out e-learning equipment to better the training skills of students living with disabilities.

“With the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment and job training skills, we will be able to help the students living with disabilities to do e-learning and to better their education and job training,” said Chull-Joo Park.

It was revealed that the South Korean Embassy approached BRCS with the intent to donate equipment and educational material that includes an embroidery machine, photo copier machine, tablets and interactive boards to be utilized by the trainees.

The industrial printer is a machine that works with embroidery machine to print designs for clothing and it will enable the learners to have more material available to them to facilitate learning.

Through this embroidery machine, students will be exposed to better technologies which ultimately improve the quality of materials they produce. It will also allow students to learn business skills and run profitable ventures.

Smart board gadgets will provide the students with an elevated learning process to be fostered by e-learning. The gadgets provide a more visual element to the learning process, which in turn improves learner mental retention.

Tlamelong Rehabilitation serves the marginalized and underserved less privileged persons living with disability in Botswana. The center offers boarding services, vocational training, social services, physiotherapy and rehabilitation services for young people living disabilities aged 18-35 from across the country over a period of two (2) years per cohort which has a maximum intake capacity of 35. BRCS through International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have managed to create great working synergy with the South Korean Embassy in Pretoria based in South Africa to support or augment the National Society’s Rehabilitation Centre’s learning challenges.

For his part, BRSC Secretary General Kutlwano Mokokomani said they are delighted to convey their gratitude as BRSC to the South Korean Embassy for donation and they look forward to an enduring partnership for such worthy causes.

“South Korean Embassy’s great gesture will enable trainees to thrive, to fulfil their dreams to become a reality as this equipments will go a long way in creating great impact in the lives of trainees and their families. We wish to convey our sincere gratitude to the South Korean Embassy for their noble gesture of donating the E-learning equipments.”

BRCS offers rehabilitation services spread across three (3) areas in Botswana being Sefhare Stimulation center in Sefhare, Tshimologo stimulation center in Francistown and Tlamelong rehabilitation center in Tlokweng.

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DIS alleges plot to kill Masisi hatched in South Africa

6th February 2023

A dispute is brewing between Botswana and South Africa intelligence agencies over alleged mercenary training camps discovered in South Africa by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS). 

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