ESP Should Be On The Presidentís Menu

This afternoon President Ian Khama is expected to deliver the State of the Nation Address (SONA). Khama will also take his time to report to the nation, his employers, his achievements since he took the same podium 12 months ago.

That was after his party, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) was reelected to serve Batswana for the next five years. So many things have taken place in the last 12 months. There are so many challenges that the country is undergoing.

To mention but a few, unemployment especially amongst the young graduates, the diamond dependent economic is not coping, the sales of copper nickel are down and Ebola outbreak in some parts of Africa has also affected our tourism revenue.

These are a few highlights of an economy under duress. But there is hope at the end of the dark tunnel. It is not a hopeless abyss of darkness. Early in October this year the nation was in an upbeat mood following Khama’s ‘historic landmark announcement’ during the BDP special congress in Gaborone. The President announced the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP), something that seemed to have jerked BDP members out of slumber.

The party later explained at a press conference the following day that: “The decision is all about growing the economy. The BDP has found that it is time now we tap from the foreign reserves”. One of the critical areas of this programme is tourism development, which is the second revenue earner after minerals, especially diamonds. The second critical area is agriculture production. We were told that there are efforts that will boost the economy. Construction of buildings and roads are also key areas of the ESP, and so is manufacturing. 

The government spends close to P800 million on uniforms and that money could be used to boost the citizens in manufacturing business. Last week we leant that the government is busy developing documentation for the ESP. Although details on the ESP are sketchy, if things are done according to books, the programme will take Botswana to another level.

The problem with the government is implementation and capacity to deal with mega projects.  This is because mega projects in the past have failed under the leadership of Khama. And this government, it is an open secret, moves at a snail’s pace.

Late last month the vice president Mokgweetsi Masisis said they expect construction companies to be on the site end of this month. Without more details about the ESP this is a pipedream and a recipe for corruption. We expect due process to be followed to the letter. The foreign reserves are our future generation’s inheritance. Populism and politics should not cloud our judgement lest our future generation inherit a bankrupt country.

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