Sunday, September 20, 2020

Government spends too much on commissions it ignores

The Government on Friday came under heavy attacks as MPs openly lambasted government’s indecision and abuse of public coffers to appoint a commission to review the salaries for the public service only to kick aside and ignore their recommendations.

Commenting on the bill to amend the salaries and allowances of the specified offices presented by the minister of Justice, Defence and Security, Phandu Skelemani, on behalf of Daniel Kwelagobe, Okavango MP, Vister Moruti, took a swipe at the government for appointing a costly commission only to recommend a meager salary increase than the proposed increase by the commission.
“I do not know the use of all these commissions. In the past, the public service was subjected to the unfruitful Temane and Merafhe commissions, all in the name of reviewing the salary structures of the public service. Today, the same Public Service was subjected to a similar commission with a fruitless and disappointing ending.

The public service expected much from the government following the 30 percent salary increase recommendations by the commission. Surely, the move (to award 15 percent salary hike) cannot retain the rare and coveted skills the bill seeks to attract and retain in the public sector. The engineers, architectures and the doctors whom the government undoubtedly wants to retain and attract can not be lured by such a meager increase,” charged Moruti.

The specified offices salaries and allowances amendment bill targets the rare and coveted skills, such as the doctors, architects and engineers. Such rare and coveted skills have, in the past and still today, eluded the government with qualified Batswana and foreigners opting to stay away from the country in protest against the unconvincing remunerations and incentives.

“Qualified engineers and many more other skilled personnel will always be an elusive fish to net. We will still lose the cream of our children to other countries because our government is too stingy to develop the country,” he lamented.

Moruti feels hopeless about the government’s decision and resignedly maintains the government should just have decided about the meager 15 percent salary increment instead of engaging such a costly commission.

“The public service no longer takes these commissions as useful. Government should have decided alone and come about with the 15 percent increase instead of the commission. It is indecisive and abuse of public coffers by government to engage a commission at such a cost and ignore its recommendations. I am beginning to believe these commissions are designed to financially assist friends,” Moruti argued.

Appointing the commission last year, the government was unhappy about the plummeting services rendered by the public servants and the exodus of quality professionals from the sector to other promising and lucrative private sectors within the country and outside.
The commission concluded a 30 percent hike among the public service aimed at rectifying the trend.

Despite the recommendation, the government awarded half of what had been proposed, ignoring the commission’s proposal.

Delivering the statement on Thursday, the minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Daniel Kwelagobe, revealed that the government incurred a total cost of P 1, 214, 899 on the presidential commission to review salaries of and conditions of service of the public service.

“A further amount of P312 000 was spent on the presidential commission on the salaries, conditions of service and other entitlements for the president, vice president, the speaker, ministers, deputy speaker, assistant ministers, leader of opposition, MPs, members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi and councilors on the political leadership bringing the total amount spent on the two commissions to P1 526 899,” Kwelagobe revealed in a statement.

Selebi Phikwe West MP Kavis Kario accused the government of not detailing budgetary information to the public.
“Government should give details of how such a recommendation could not be effected instead of giving blanket figures,” Kario argued.

Kwelagobe told parliament the reason government accorded the public service 15 percent increase was not just based on inflationary adjustment but on the reasons that “the government expenditure should not exceed 40 percent of GDP. The expenditure on development projects, at 25.4 percent of total expenditure, should not fall far short of the agreed target of 30 percent of total government expenditure. The government budget deficit should not exceed three percent of GDP, which is the international norm for an acceptable deficit ratio.”

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.