Monday, April 22, 2024

It’s an unkind budget – Keorapetse 

Dithapelo Keorapetse, the leader of the opposition in Parliament, has strongly criticized the 2024/25 national budget, denouncing it as “unkind” towards the unemployed, the impoverished, and those on the fringes of society. Keorapetse’s condemnation follows Finance Minister Peggy Serame’s budget speech on Monday.

Citing Statistics Botswana’s 2023 jobs card figures, Keorapetse highlighted a troubling rise in unemployment, with the number of jobless individuals surging by 12.5 percent to 275,160 in the third quarter of 2023, pushing the national unemployment rate to 25.9 percent.

Keorapetse underscored the concerning trajectory of Botswana’s unemployment, which has steadily increased from 15.9 percent in 2000 to the current 25.9 percent. He emphasized the severity of the situation by considering the extended unemployment rate, which includes discouraged job seekers, reaching 31.2 percent according to the latest report.

Expressing dismay over the underemployment of Botswana’s youth, Keorapetse noted that many possess qualifications ranging from trade certificates to post-graduate degrees but are relegated to low-paying temporary positions or menial jobs. He lamented the lack of access to basic services such as water, electricity, and sanitation, exacerbating the challenges faced by the working poor.

In proposing solutions, Keorapetse advocated for the absorption of all interns and Tirelo Sechaba participants into the public service, state agencies, and parastatals. He highlighted the competence and quality service delivery provided by these individuals, suggesting that their absorption could mitigate unemployment and enhance service delivery.

Additionally, Keorapetse called for collaborative efforts between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education to secure more scholarships for young Batswana from bilateral and multilateral partners. He stressed the importance of expanding educational opportunities and skills development to empower the youth.

Keorapetse’s scathing critique underscores the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address unemployment, poverty, and socio-economic disparities in Botswana, particularly to uplift vulnerable groups and bolster youth prospects.

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