Public expenditure can no longer be the driver of economic growth

11 Aug 2019

A way has to be found to wean Botswana away from public sector inspired growth.

That means growing the private sector and also reducing the wage bill of government.

The current budget deficit, unless our economic priorities change is set to grow.

And that is not in our best interests as a country.

There might be a need for Government to consider a time bound amnesty for laundered money that has been deposited offshore, especially in tax havens that have no legislative arrangements with Botswana for repatriation of the same.

There is need for a strong vision post 2019-General Elections.

There is need for a strong reform of parastatals.

Patronage continues to undermine these companies from realizing their full potential.

Most of these companies have generally opaque operations that are never opened for public scrutiny.

That too has to change.

There are still many who believe that proximity to power, on their connections within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party should be sufficient enough to be a license to self-enrichment.

That too has to change.

A line has to be drawn on the sand.

It is not enough to dismantle the acidic legacy of the previous administration. In its place there has to be put a structure with which those hitherto left aside could also feel they too matter.

Reforms should bring jobs, they should put money into people’s pockets and most importantly put food on the table.

If these reforms do not happen, an alternative is too grim to even begin to contemplate it.

People will fall victim to those politicians promising unrealistic pies in the sky.

There is a creeping tendency into our politics for political leaders to solicit campaign money abroad against such public assets like mining rights, pension funds and most recently even access to Bank of Botswana managed Pula Fund.

These year’s elections are not like any other before.

Since De Beers was found to be bankrolling Botswana Democratic Party in the 90’s, by and large many political parties had voluntarily embraced localizing their campaign finances.

That has changed.

Across the world, populism is on the rise.

It takes different strains.

In Botswana people could be swayed to populist rhetoric mainly on account of the fact that the current set up has not for a majority of them, not delivered.

So far efforts to attract foreign investments into Botswana to kick-start the economy and help with job creation have remained nothing more than a statement of intent on the part of Government.

The biggest problem holding Botswana’s economy back is that there is too much caution on the part of those in power.

Whatever reforms they carry out are piecemeal and often half baked.

There are still sectors in Botswana that are crucial to the economy but still underperforming.

One of those sectors is the aviation industry. The other is tourism and to a certain extent the financial sector and last but not least, the beef industry, or rather the whole of agriculture.

Like unemployment, poverty remains at an alarming rate.

These twins of evil have to be fought and defeated – whatever the cost.