The European Union’s decision to increase aid to Botswana by 15 percent or 10.5 million euros, equivalent to P105 million, in recognition of the adverse impact of the global financial economic crisis on the country’s revenue, which was generated through export earnings, is expected to enhance Government’s efforts in attainment of the Vision 2016 targets.
Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) Kenneth Matambo, pointed out that the objective of the cooperation between Botswana and the EU has always been to improve the well being of all citizens of Botswana, and to create a viable nation based on the country’s four principles of democracy, development, self reliance and unity.
He said the EU has played a very important role in that direction, “and has worked closely with the government to integrate its assistance in our efforts to realise our goals as set out in our successive national development plans and the national vision.”
This followed a signing ceremony held at the MFDP headquarters conference room, where Matambo on behalf of Botswana Government and Ambassador Paul Malin, Head of EU Mission appended their signatures to two financing agreements in the tune of 650 million pula.
On explaining the thrust of the occasion, Malin said, “Last June Botswana signed an economic partnership agreement with the European Union as part of SADC Group. Our support for human resources is part of the process of diversifying the economy, providing education and training for a modern society and strengthening its ability to compete on the international market.”
The EU Head of Mission stated that they (EU) made a promise to use development assistance to increase the capacity of small economies to supply the market, to accompany the process of market expansion and opening that the partnership agreement provides for, adding that, “it is on that basis that we are doing so.”
Of the two agreements signed this past Thursday 4th February 2009, the first which amounts to 600 million pula is for supporting the Government budget to assist Botswana in producing an adequate supply of qualified, productive, healthy and competitive human resources. It is focused on relevance, access, quality, equity and efficient management of the education sector.
The financing of more preventive prevention of HIV infection was cited as one of the objectives of the funding.
In relation to the second agreement which is in the tune of 50million pula, and is viewed as complementary to the first, it was stated that it entailed support project for providing technical assistance requested by Government in key fields of education, employment, and public finance management.
Matambo indicated that it is in the latter agreement, which the proposed Human Resource Development Advisory Council and the National Credit and Qualification Framework management, under the Ministry of Education, falls.
Malin expressed satisfaction in the benefit of opportunity he has to see plans the Union has been making jointly with Government translating into real tangible results. He added that he and colleagues in the Delegation of the EU have been working with Government and civil society to prepare for the 10th Development Fund to assist NDP 10.
Apparently the missions of all the European member states have been closely associated with this process.
Thus, the two interventions that are being financed in 2010 are consistent with the goal of the Joint Country Strategy Paper (2007-2013) on development co-operation between the European Union and Botswana which is poverty reduction through economic growth ensuring that the benefits of education lead to employment and supporting an effective response strategy by the Government to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Malin also qualified the 10.5 million top up as a practical show of consideration after an assessment by the EU of the drastic loss in export earnings, principally deriving from diamonds, due to the impact of the global crisis.
In the final analysis, the EU Chief diplomat made a assurance that, “the representatives of all the member states have given their agreement to the two programmes we are about to sign which use the funds they provide, to translate our joint development policy into tangible support for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs in Botswana.”
For his part, Botswana finance Chief, mentioned that signing is only a beginning.
“Henceforth, I will be paying diligent attention to implementation and ensuring that the draw downs are made in accordance with the timeframes agreed and where possible to frontload them in line with the request from His Excellency President Ian Khama, when he met President Barroso of the EU in Brussels last year,” pledged Matambo in conclusion..
The EU cooperates with the Botswana Government in a few key areas, including education, economic diversification, governance, public finance management and support to non state actors. Emphasis is placed on Government-driven technical assistance, financial assistance at macro-level including policy dialogue, and support at grass root level.
The total allocation from the European Union Development Fund to support Botswana’s NDP 10 now adds up Ôé¼83.5 million (BWP835 million) after the 15% increase to 650 million pula.