Investing in the education and improvement of skills of Batswana yields economic growth and stability, says Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) Research Fellow, Dr Pelotshweu Moepeng.
Speaking to The Telegraph on a range of issues, he said tremendous progress has been made in getting thousands of diploma holders to pursue degrees in tertiary education.
He said from the 2012/13 budget speech, the Ministry of Education received a good portion of the budget sharing, taking 27.3 percent at P7.77 billion. Given the government’s deliberate effort, the numbers of students going abroad have been reduced in this financial year’s budget, Moepeng said.
However, he pointed out other issues that are circulating within government’s economic corridors, which include reduction of the government’s wage bill. ┬á
This was underscored by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) consultancy on their mission to Botswana Article IV (July 2012). ┬á“Efforts to reduce the wage bill should be accompanied by reforms of government employment and wage policies,” the IMF mission said.
Moepeng pointed out that according to the 2012/13 budget speech, government had taken a deliberate decision to reduce each ministry’s wage bill by 5 percent in three years through outsourcing, merging of companies and other methods. “The freeze on the creation of new posts will be maintained during the 2012/13 financial year,” he said.
“Merging of departments and organisations is good as it can create efficiency and it also coincides with human capital development. This is because merged companies or organisations will require highly skilled or highly educated personnel. Unlike in broad organisations, in merged organisations people will have a one stop centre, doing one thing that is related from one company to another.
Therefore, one may get different services from one organisation because of merging. In an example whereby there will be a highly educated person, that person can do two or more jobs for others who are not available at a needed time. This, of course, being the result of merging of companies and organisation,” said Moepeng.
The BIDPA expert said in the reduction of the government wage bill, the organisations should eliminate duplication of responsibilities to rationalise jobs for efficiency and productivity. He further stated that highly skilled and educated people will be vital for this economic process.
“This will make the public sector efficient, which will enhance facilitating of the private sector. The private sector will then generate more growth of the economy and more job creation as more vacancies for educated people will be available,” said Moepeng.
However, wage bill reduction and merging of organisations can lead to what is called structural unemployment. This is whereby people cannot be absorbed by organisations because they are no longer needed or have been substituted by the highly qualified job seekers. This often leads to retrenchments, he said.
In response to the possibility of structural unemployment, Moepeng said that there should be retraining on new areas of growth, like people being trained to own their companies and in other areas of speciality which can contribute to economic growth.