Botswana has become victim of its economic success, anchored on prudent fiscal planning over the years that demanded the country to “think outside the box” to venture into strategic debts that servicedthemselves.
This was designedto catapult Botswana into the first world economy class.
This was the view of Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and IndustryBiggie Butale when responding to thebudget speech on Thursday.
He argued that Botswana had the potential to move from a middle income country to First World economy citing mega multi-billion Pula projects.
“We have become the victims of our success. Our fiscal prudence has over the years become an albatross around our necks,” Butale noted. He said the much talked about Coal to Liquids project could be beneficial to the entire nation including the region for its petroleum products.
“As a government we should be strategic in debt …debt that will pay for itself,” he cautioned, estimating the petroleum facility to P40-50 billion which within a period of 20 years wouldhave cleared its debt comfortably while generating surplus capital to boost the country’s economyas well as fuel and other related products satisfactorily to the entire nation.
“That is calculated risk taking,” the Tati East Member of Parliament acknowledged, calling on the government to move “out of caution” to become “ambitious into the First World country.”
Butale said: “I believe it is time to even venture into a nuclear power station. It is the cheapest. We should think outside the box. That is the way to go to generate power to the local population and the entire region,” he said, concluding it would “save our government from some of the perennial abuse from our detractors”, referring to the opposition parties.
While he did not emphasise much about austerity and fiscal prudent measures in his budget speech, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo pointed to anunsatisfactory future characterised by measures to curb increase in the to reduce wastage.
“Government will tighten controls by prohibiting among others awarding of tenders or contracts without proof of availability of funds,” Matambo said.