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Parliament rejects living allowance motion

20 Mar 2023

Parliament has last Friday rejected by majority vote a motion that requested government to introduce a living allowance as opposed to a minimum wage.

Nkange MP, Dr Never Tshabang tabled the motion recently arguing that research had proved that the current economic challenges needed an allowance of at least P3 000 for one to live decently.

Dr Tshabang said statistics also indicated that unemployment rate in the country had moved above 25 per cent from 16 per cent in recent years, while the number of people living in poverty had shot from 17 to 28 per cent.

He had also argued that unlike the minimum wage, the living allowance was adjusted according to current economic challenges such as rentals, cost of food and transport.

“The living wage is more hinged on and moves with the current challenges, unlike the minimum wage, which can take some time to be adjusted,” he said.

He had also indicated that the decision to bring the motion before Parliament was informed by the realisation that many citizens decried the low wages they were paid.

He also urged Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Ms Annah Mokgethi to ensure that the Minimum Wage Advisory Board increased all existing allowances as close as possible to the proposed living allowance.

During their debates, some legislators had cited lack of funds as reasons for not supporting the motion.

Tonota MP, also Deputy Speaker, Mr Pono Moatlhodi had indicated that what government currently gave was what the fiscal situation allowed.

“I am at pains to agree with the motion in that the status quo has served us well over the years. A living wage has its own challenges as it would lead to employers being forced to employ only a few people,” Mr Moatlhodi argued.

For her part, Minister Mokgethi indicated that the issue of low wages was not only a concern locally, but even to the International Labour Organisation.

She, however, indicated that it would not serve the country well to cluster all the cadres affected by low wages under one blanket.

She also indicated that in setting the minimum wage, the ministry was informed by the advice from the Minimum Wage Advisory Board.

Responding to legislators’ contributions on the motion, Dr Tshabang indicated that the motion was brought to Parliament in good faith rather than as a political move because the issue impacted directly and heavily on the daily lives of Batswana.

“It is a pity that MPs from the ruling party rejected the motion even though some of them are here as a result of promising the electorate that they would advocate for their welfare. This motion was looking into addressing that very issue, so I expected all members to support it,” he said. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Olekantse Sennamose

Location : GABORONE

Event : Parliament March 2023

Date : 20 Mar 2023