National budget affects everyone - BIDPA expert

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A Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) researcher has exploded the widely held myth that the national budget is relevant only to certain sectors, stressing that the policy document particularly affects the most vulnerable in society.

Speaking at an Open Budget Index seminar in Gaborone last week, Keneilwe Marata said the national budget was government's most important economic policy tool, which translates policies, political commitments and goals into tangible monetary targets.Marata's comments came after finance and development planning minister, Kenneth Matambo delivered the 2013/14 Budget Speech in Parliament recently. Many commentators, including political leaders, used broadcast, print and social media to blast the budget's relevance to ordinary Batswana, with the majority saying it was "exclusive, too technical and irrelevant".

The BIDPA researcher, however, says each national budget directly and indirectly affects citizens' lives and often had the greatest impact on vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the poor, rural dwellers and ethnic minorities."The well-being and prospects of these people can hinge greatly upon government decisions on raising and spending money," she told delegates at the seminar."Budgets cuts tend to have the greatest impact on programmes that benefit the poor and vulnerable, as other items, such as interest on the debt, the public sector wage bill, or military expenditures, are more likely to have first claim on scarce funds."

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