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NDP sets tone for transformation

06 Feb 2023

The 2022/2023 financial year, which marks the end of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11, laid down the foundation for the successful implementation of the national Vision 2036.

Proposing the 2023/2024 national budget in Parliament on February 6, Minister of Finance, Ms Peggy Serame said the plan had been critical in setting the strategic foundation of transforming Botswana from an upper-middle income to a higher income country by 2036.

The minister highlighted some of the major achievements of the plan, among them; water supply projects such as Mahalapye and Palapye Water Treatment Plant, North East and Tutume Sub-district water supply scheme and Lobatse-Mogojogojo water supply scheme, which have been completed successfully.

“In addition, Kazungula and Okavango River (Mohembo) bridges are some of the major projects that were completed during NDP 11,” she said.

She said the two bridges had significantly changed the lives of people in those areas by improving transportation of goods, easing movement of people and delivery of government projects, which were delayed by ferry transportation.

The minister said other notable achievements included the construction of three road interchanges in Gaborone aimed at improving traffic flow and expected to be completed at the end of the current financial year.

Other achievements, Ms Serame pointed out, included the commencement of the Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency projects, internet connection to 665 government facilities such as schools, dikgotla and health facilities.

She further said 41 115 plots were allocated by December 2022 to facilitate social and economic development while 11 sub-districts had recently been upgraded to fully-fledged districts to improve service delivery.

Another major accomplishment, she added, was the removal of Botswana from the grey list by the Financial Action Task Force after it strengthened its legal and institutional frameworks.

Minister Serame said in addition, Parliament had passed laws such as Value Added Tax (VAT), which cushioned Batswana against the high cost of living and the Public Procurement Act as well as  Economic Inclusion Act, which were expected to increase citizen participation in the economy.

“This should translate into improved living standards and create employment opportunities for all Batswana,” she said.

However, she noted that the economy underperformed during NDP 11 implementation, as it grew by 2.7 per cent against a projected growth of 4.2 per cent, partly due to COVID-19 induced recession and impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“This adds to the challenge of achieving higher growth rate of 5.7 per cent during the Transitional National Development Plan and NDP 12 in order to stay on track towards achieving high income status by 2036, and to reduce unemployment and eradicate abject poverty,” she said.

Another notable challenge has been the increasing unemployment rate, from 17.5 per cent in 2015 to 22.2 per cent in 2019 and further to 26 per cent in 2021, she added.

The minister said the increase was partly attributable to the impact of COVID-19, noting, however, that even before then, the rate was still increasing.

However, preliminary data released by Statistics Botswana in January had shown that unemployment rate had declined slightly to 25.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2022.

“While this is a small change, it is encouraging that the unemployment rate is moving at the right direction,” she said.

She said government would continue to ensure macroeconomic stability and fiscal sustainability in order to restore financial buffers, which had declined since the 2009 global financial crisis.

The minister further said government would strengthen measures to manage public sector efficiency in order to ensure quality delivery of public services.

“These measures will include cost-saving measures, rationalisation of services as well as improved monitoring and evaluation, among others,” she said. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Tebagano Ntshole

Location : GABORONE

Event : Budget Speech 23/24

Date : 06 Feb 2023