Tuesday, December 7, 2021

In search of unavailable statistics

The broader socio-economic impact of the Covid 19 pandemic in Botswana may be hidden by a lack of up-to-date data, a leading economic think tank – Econsult has said.

Economists at Econsult have said that while the pandemic is likely to have worsened inequality in the country, given that it impacted more on the informal sector than on the formal sector, the impact cannot be accurately computed as there is no recent data on poverty levels, or household incomes or expenditures.

“The quarterly labour market survey that had been providing useful information on critical labour market trends has only published one set of results recently (for Q4 2020), and, perhaps surprisingly, there is no indication of when more results can be expected”, noted Econsult on its most recent quarterly economic review report.

While they are in search of unavailable statistics, Econsult researchers note that there are fears that household budgets are under increasing stress due to reduced incomes, job losses and healthcare expenses, which will only mount over time, with no clear end in sight.

Econsult says despite the absence of up to date data, the possibility of a hit on the informal sector by Covid 19 emphasises the need to revisit social protection, “as the impact of the pandemic could be detrimental to low-income households, which may struggle to meet basic necessities”.

The leader of the Botswana Informal Sector Association – Mpho Matoteng told Sunday Standard midway-the-pandemic that their 25 000 registered members in urban areas were hard hit by the first national lockdown declared in April 2020.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that around 2 billion people—61 percent of the world’s working population—toil in the informal economy, and have little or nothing to protect them when they are unable to go to work like It was the case for Botswana’s informal sector between April and late 2020.

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