Education sector trade union, BOSETU says government had not been transparent enough to explain how P12 billion drawn from government investment account to augment the national budget was used.
Presenting at BOSETU’s budget review, National treasurer Samuel Aboneng said the
Provision of that transparency in the budget speech would have allayed Batswana’s fears and concerns of possible misuse or misallocation of the reserves from the Government Investment Account.
Aboneng added that the decline of government investment account portion of the reserves that went towards financing the budget deficit of 14.3 billion was a cause for concern to BOSETU.
“The decline of this portion of the reserves from P17.8 billion at the end of 2019 to P5.6 billion as of November 2020 is quite worrisome as it implies the economy now stands in a relatively weak position to withstand any future shocks”.
“We are very much concerned that the budget speech does not detail the main import expenditure which would have helped rationalizing the use of the reserves especially if a great proportion of that expenditure was used to procure COVID 19 related equipment such as Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs).”
BOSETU also said they have reservations on the announced intention to deal with the inefficiencies of the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) some of which have duplicating and overlapping mandates. “We are highly worried about the implications of possible closure and liquidation of some SOEs, especially possible impact on the loss of jobs and the possible increase in the dependency ratio as a result, at a time of an already jobless growth economy with very high unemployment rate of about 25 percent as reported in this current budget speech.”
Aboneng further said that as BOSETU they are worried by the statement that SOEs will also be required to raise a greater portion of their own revenues.
“Such requirements especially for those that are natural monopolies may mean that they have to raise the revenues from increasing their tariffs which will have very negative impacts on Batswana and on the welfare of teachers whose salaries are generally low”, the national treasurer said.
“ Such increments must be managed and made within reasonable limits to avoid the extreme loss in welfare as has happened recently with the increase in electricity tariffs by Botswana Power Corporation in the middle of the COVID 19 pandemic. In fact, these could have been avoided during this time of the economic challenges faced by most workers and households and BOSETU is concerned by such insensitive developments”, Aboneng further said.
On Unemployment, BOSETU said they are disappointed that government does not have a clear strategy for creating sustainable employment opportunities for young graduates. “Government currently engages these youth in non-sustainable programmes in the Internship, National Service, etc. The proposed efforts in developing a National Employment Policy have been on the table for too long without yielding the desired results. BOSETU does not believe government is treating this matter with the sense of urgency it deserves”, concluded Abotseng