While Minister of Finance Ken Matambo has ignored persistent calls to reveal the budget for the much anticipated Economic Stimulus Package (ESP), his right hand man was more accommodating as he later gave stakeholders their first glimpse into the stimulus goodie bag.
Secretary for Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Finance, Taufila Nyamadzabo let the cat out of the bag a day after the budget speech while presenting at a budget review session hosted by First National Bank Botswana (FNBB). He told the audience that under the ESP an estimated P1.43 billion was budgeted for the 2015/16 financial year, which ends in three months time. A further P2.2 billion will be spent in the new financial year 2016/17 which begins on 01 April.
“Implementation of the ESP will be done over a period of three years,” he said.
Explaining the rationale behind the ESP, Nyamadzabo said expenditure cuts were not an alternative as they could slacken economic growth, hence the need for a stimulus programme. Before Nyamadzabo went public with the ESP figures, government had remained tight lipped on details of the controversial economic programme.
The nation had hoped that President Ian Khama would give more details on the ESP during his state of the nation address in November last year, but he only repeated, almost word for word, details that were shared at the BDP special congress when the ESP was first announced. A few weeks later, Matambo parried probing questions from the opposition with a promise that all would be revealed during the budget speech.
“Wait for my budget speech in February. That’s when I will share on the impact of the ESP on the local economy,” said Matambo at the time.
However, he failed to fulfill his promise during the budget speech this past Monday. It was Nyamadzabo who came to the party the next day, saying implementation of the ESP is scheduled to start in earnest in the 2016/17 financial year. Matambo further noted that with the extension of NDP 10 by an additional year to end in 2016/17, any new projects under the ESP will be approved through this year’s budget.