The government had no intention to increase salaries of public servants during the 2015/16 financial year, fresh information compiled by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and passed on to Sunday Standard shows.
According to a draft government budget strategy paper for the 2016/17 financial year, the government estimates its total expenditure and net lending to reach P55.72 billion from the original budget of P54.15 billion. The increase in total expenditure is said to be emanating from the additional amounts required to cover public servants salary adjustment that was effected in April this year.
Public service negotiations on salary and other conditions of service for the year 2015/16 were completed in early April 2015, with both government and trade unions agreeing to a salary increase of six percent.
Initially trade unions proposed a 15 percent salary hike while the government offered only 4 percent. The government budget process is usually completed before the end of December of the preceding year.
As a result of late conclusions in budget negotiations, the government did not include the adjustment in the 2015/16 financial year budget resulting in an upward trend in total expenditure of P1.57 billion. The additional amount required for the public servants salaries increase together with drought relief measures has as a result pushed the government budget to a deficit. According to the 2016/17 budget strategy paper, the government is likely to record a budget deficit of P1.7 billion or minus 1.1 percent of GDP.
The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Union (BOFEPUSU) has previously accused the government of delaying negotiations while the government on the other side is also equally blaming the unions.
In February this year, Matambo told parliament that the Government remains fully committed to the Bargaining Council in the process of negotiating public service salaries and will continue to consult with Trade Unions.
“Government has nevertheless made an offer to the Unions. Such an offer is based on projected financial resources and it is expected that the Trade Unions will appreciate the budgetary constraints facing the Government. We hope that the negotiations by the Bargaining Council will be concluded soon and an agreement reached, before the beginning of the next financial year, so that public servants are not disadvantaged,’ Matambo said.
However BOFEPUSU’s Secretary General, Tobokani Rari was later to rubbish Matambo’s sentiments saying the Government had a tendency to create an impression that its representatives are committed to the bargaining council while it is not the case.
“The way he put words in his speech, it looks more like government has given a proposal and the unions’ side is reluctant in finalising the negotiations. That is the picture that Matambo is painting to the nation and it is false,” Rari said.
He also said the government has a tendency of always wanting to fabricate the truth adding that it is not for the first time Matambo did that.
“Last year he created the wrong impression to the nation that the bargaining council was reluctant to conclude the talks on salary negotiations while the actual truth is that government representative are the ones who are not committed to the bargaining council to resolve issues of salary negotiations,” said Rari.
He further explained that as per the constitution of the bargaining council they submitted their proposal to government for salary negotiations by October last year. Then the bargaining council immediately passed their proposal to government.
“November, December passed. They only brought in their counter proposal two weeks back. Since then we have been waiting for the bargaining council secretariat to call a meeting so that negotiations can start but that has not yet happened,” explained Rari.
Sunday Standard has gathered that Trade unions submitted their proposal for negotiations on Salary and conditions of service for the year 2015/16 on 25th October 2014 while the government submitted her counter proposal on 20th January 2015.