Tone set for NDP12 but glaring omissions still exist

Tightrope act: Serame delivering the Budget Speech on Monday PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Tightrope act: Serame delivering the Budget Speech on Monday PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG

February 7, 2022, felt like a big moment in Botswana history. Not just because it was a momentous occasion as the first female Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame delivered her maiden speech (no pun intended), but also the tone of the speech felt dramatically different on Monday.

Whilst previous ministers had touched on much of the same issues, this time it felt as if the issues were getting the due attention they deserve. It felt like the ministry and minister had finally listened to a lot of the complaints Batswana have about the budget and the way it is presented. I could not tell if this was a result of there being a new minister at the ministry or the shackles of NDP11 being shaken off and the ministry embracing the possibilities that come with the conceptualisation of a new national development plan. Or maybe the effects of the Reset Agenda being felt? Whatever the reason, this budget speech felt like it was a step in the right direction.

As I have bemoaned in the past, the typical response to a problem in Botswana has been to throw money at it. As one consultant said this week, we focus too much on resources rather than resourcefulness i.e finding innovative ways to do a lot with a little. Botswana has been plagued by this inclination over the past 30 years. Because we were 'rich' we didn’t have to plan very well. We didn’t have to think about return on investment for projects, we could just focus on political motivations and actions. We used no real investment criteria on where to place a school/road/clinic and didn’t care too much to manage its costs. We could take reckless political decisions to award salary hikes just before election years to buy them (what does it say about our political maturity and literacy? That this still works?) and the fiscal position of the country would still prosper. The phase of abundant resources ended in 2008 but in the 14 years since then, we have not been able to re-adjust and transform into a country of resourcefulness. This speech finally felt like there are serious conversations now being had to correct that.

Editor's Comment
Something ought to be done about deadly A3 Road

The accident which happened near Marapong village comes after yet another horrific accident which claimed 16 lives in July last year near Hubona. These stats don’t include other accidents where fatalities were not as many as the two.While several factors may have contributed to the two accidents and many others, many believe the biggest with that road is the bad state that the road is in. Unconfirmed reports in the most recent accident state...

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