Saturday, October 16, 2021

Joblessness: The forever headache for Botswana government

How are jobs really created? Perhaps before answering the often contentious question of who should create jobs, one should first consider the way in which such jobs will come.

Both questions are important, and if one had answer them it would have to be the Finance Minister, Kenneth Matambo. In February Matambo is expected to deliver the 2018/19 budget speech as he had done in the past. Job seekers, and there are many of them now, will look to Matambo to emancipate them from the deep claws of the ugly headed monster being unemployment. Will Matambo live up to the task or will job seekers on that day go to bed another night fretting and uncertain about their future?

It appears from past national budgets speeches that a cursory approach had been taken to job creation. The speeches, without fail, had identified and mentioned employment creation as an area of focus. Economic growth had often been highlighted as necessary to foster and drive job creation. It is worth mentioning that following the discovery and mining of diamonds Botswana produced an impressive and notable economic growth but even such growth had failed to robustly bring new jobs into the economy. Pundits blamed the failure of job creation to the structure of the economy which was and still is predominantly reliant on a single commodity (diamonds) for revenue generation.       

Highlighted below are all the mentions of job/employment creation by Matambo from the 2017/18 budget speech. This article sought to interrogate the tone and approach to job creation by government on whether it had a deliberate and earnest intent or it was inattentive to the unemployment scourge.   

“The approval of the NDP 11 by Parliament followed extensive consultations with various national stakeholders, which resulted in the identification of several national priorities that have to be pursued in the medium term to address the development challenges of unemployment, poverty and income inequality.”

“Madam Speaker, Honourable Members may recall that the eleventh National Development Plan (NDP 11) was approved by this House in December 2016. Hence, these2017/2018 budget proposals are the first instalment out of six budgetary outlays for implementing NDP 11, whose theme is “Inclusive Growth for Realisation of Employment Creation and Poverty Eradication.”

“Madam Speaker, price stability is one of the important elements for macroeconomic stability, the latter being a necessary condition for growth and job creation in the country.”

“The low inflation environment, on the other hand, is necessary for fostering

international competitiveness of domestic industries, and support economic development necessary for creating employment.”

“Madam Speaker, as a general principle, economic development and employment creation require rapid economic growth.”

“With regard to employment creation, it is important to clarify that the principal role of the Government is not to create jobs directly, but to provide a conducive macroeconomic environment to facilitate the development of the private sector. The private sector, in turn, is expected to take advantage of such an environment to undertake investments, which would contribute to the growth of the economy and creation of sustainable employment opportunities.”

“The Local Economic Development programme, which started in 2015, will be intensified with a view to creating sustainable employment using resources available within local communities.”

“It is our expectation that attaining fiscal sustainability should result in enhanced economic growth which is necessary to provide for; employment opportunities, eradication of abject poverty, and promotion of equitable distribution of the country’s wealth.”

The question that follows is should Matambo’s focus on job creation have had a detailed implementation plan under which specific projects, responsibilities, resources, activities, time frames and budgets were specified? Or does the approach used above serve to stimulate and drive job creation? In his impending speech Matambo will answer this question, or may not.

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