Monday, May 20, 2024

Finance Minister emphasises value-for-money projects

Presenting a forecast modest surplus budget outturn of P1.23 billion or 0.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the financial year 2015/16 with total revenues and grants estimated at P56.38 billion and expenditure as well as net lending of P54.15 billion, Matambo emphasis ed concerted efforts for an enhanced project implementation programme through establishment of an implementation unit for mega projects under the National Strategy Office (NSO) in the Office of the President.

In his view, the establishment of the unit will help complement measures by improving existing value-for-money measures by improving project implementation throughout the public. The finance minister called on accounting officers to monitor project implementation in both their ministries and in state-owned enterprises falling under their jurisdiction with a view to improving operation efficiency.

His concerns are borne out of the fact that during National Development Plan (NDP) 10, the development budget has been under-spent by an average of 17.3 percent for the years 2011/12 through 2013/14 due to delayed project implementation.

“Even where projects are finally delivered, they are usually characterised by cost overruns and questionable quality. It is against this background that government continues to take measures to improve on project implementation. To this end, the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) is implementing the integrated Procurement Management System to enhance procurement management, improve transparency, and reduce lead times in public procurement. The system further provides for online bidding, which includes preparation procurement plans, generation of invitation to tender documents, downloading of documents by contractors, online┬átender submission, as well as online adjudication. The PPADB has also intensified the training of Procuring Entities, Committees of the Board, Ministerial Tender Committees and District Administration Committees to enhance their skills”, said the finance minister.

Matambo said as the period of the current long term vision ÔÇô Vision 2016 approaches the end, government through the National Strategy Office has embarked on the preparation of the National Vision Beyond 2016 with diagnostic studies of the four thematic areas of Economy and Employment; Social Upliftment; ┬áSustainable Environment; and Governance, Safety and Security having been undertaken.

“Furthermore, the draft vision framework was approved by the Botswana Economic Advisory Council chaired by His Excellency the President, in November 2014. This would allow for goals and objectives with the nation’s future aspirations as would be articulated in the National Vision Beyond 2016”, explained minister Matambo.

The minister also emphasized the need for growing the economy to address the challenges opf of poverty, unemployment, and income inequality. Matamabo observed further that it would be impossible to create the jobs that the country desperately needs to address youth unemployment and generate revenues to support government’s social welfare programmes maintaining that it is for this growth and economic diversification should remain the country’s economic priorities.

“Economic growth can also be generated through improving total factor productivity and improving the productive human and capital inputs. Whereas, the country has performed reasonable well in increasing factor inputs, growth in factor has been a challenge in the recent years. In this regard, improving productivity must remain a priority for driving economic growth and ensuring that the economy performs as its potential”, said the minister.

He lamented that a recent challenge to the promotion of growth and economic diversification has been the declining total factor productivity in the domestic economy, especially labour productivity. In this regard, government will continue to put in place measures to promote productivity that include reforming the country’s education and training system, improving work┬á ethic through training the workforce as well as reviewing labour regulations with a view to promoting efficiency in the labour market.

Such labour market reforms will assist the economy to transit from mineral-led to a knowledge economy. To further improve on total factor productivity, government is implementing public sector reforms, enhancing research and development, and developing human skills.

Matambo said public sector reforms are critical in improving productivity and achieving efficient public service delivery. Hence, a comprehensive Public Sector Reform Coordination Programme is being developed and will be implemented during NDP 11. The programme is expected to generate five key results, which are; improved relevance and convergence of public sector reforms and their alignment with national priorities; enhanced coordination; increased capacity of implementing agencies; improved monitoring and evaluation; and informed decision making on prioritisation and funding. These results are expected to improve service delivery within the public sector and thus, have a positive bearing on labour productivity and economic growth.

Furthermore, a Public Finance Management reform Programme was adopted in July 2010 as part of ongoing fiscal reforms. In this connection, the last few years have seen government gradually strengthening its macro-fiscal management and budget formulation capabilities. In the process, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has developed and implemented a medium-term fiscal framework which generates medium term forecasts.

In addition, government will implement a medium term expenditure framework in the 2015 financial year to strengthen management of public finance spending.

Although Matambo outlined measures to improve productivity and improve efficiency, a lot still remains to be desired with respect to most public enterprises performance.

The minister acknowledged that the country’s parastatal organisations continued to display uneven performance during the year, with some performing satisfactorily while others recorded operational losses.

Parastatals which performed satisfactorily included Botswana Telecommunication Corporation Limited (BTCL); National Development Bank (NDB); Botswana Telecommunications Regulatory Authority; Botswana Housing Corporation; and the Botswana Meat Commission.

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