Saturday, October 23, 2021

Govt ‘plans’ to stifle public servants’ spending

The government is secretly planning to “starve” public servants by slowing down the pace of spending on their wages and salaries, information pieced together by the Sunday Standard shows. 

While the government has already admitted that it is considering adjusting some taxes and levies, on the other side it is said to also be looking at minimising the pace at which it increases salaries of its workforce as well as a slash on transfer of money to State Owned Enterprises (SOEs). 

Already signs of the secretive plan are out in the public space as shown by government’s decision to shut down one of its companies ÔÇô BCL Limited and its subsidiaries. 

Government forced the liquidation of BCL Limited and its subsidiary, Tati Nickel Mining Company late last year following the company’s request for extra funding to keep operations running. 

At the same time, the government is also looking at disposing some stake on some of the state-owned entities such as Air Botswana. The national airline management is known for making frequent “knocks” at government enclave doors for cash injections. 

On the side of wages and salaries of its workforce, the government has been battling in courts of law with trade unions representing public servants on cases related to salary adjustments and conditions of work. 

At some point the government was accused of undermining the authority of the now defunct Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) by the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Union (BOFEPUSU). 

The PSBC has since been declared non-operational following the decision by BOFEPUSU to terminate its membership in protest of the treatment by the other party to the council being the government through the Department of Public Service Management (DPSM). 

Sunday Standard has it on good authority that top government officials who recently met a team of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that visited the government enclave has notified its team leader Enrique Gelbard of the intention to increase tax revenues and slow down the pace of spending on wages and salaries. 

In its response to the government proposals, the IMF team is said to have advised the government of the need to accelerate the planned tax revenue reforms which could aid Botswana to protect its public finances against any adverse developments as well as maintain the country’s track record of sound fiscal management. 

In the past the IMF urged Botswana to trim spending which includes reducing the size of the public service as well as outsourcing some services such as cleaning g and gardening. The IMF team met top government officials amongst them Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo, the Governor of the Bank of Botswana, Moses Pelaelo and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Solomon Sekwakwa. 

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