Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Khama’s ESP budget a study in trial and error

Information passed to the Sunday Standard suggest that the much hyped Economic Stimulus Package may be a trial and error, and there are fears that there will be more errors than trials.

While officials at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning are cagey with details of the complete Economic Stimulus Program (ESP) budget, figures gleaned from the Ministry of Lands and Housing budget provides a peep show into how the government seems to be playing it by the ear.

The project is shrouded in secrecy, a fertile breeding ground for conspiracy theories and conjecture. There are even claims that government has set aside P10 billion to be used on ESP projects; this is more than the estimated P3.6 billion that it had initially budgeted under the ESP programme.

Finance Minister Ken Matambo has dodged persistent calls requesting him to disclose the actual budget for the controversial ESP. 

At a budget review session hosted by First National Bank Botswana (FNBB).Secretary for Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Finance, Taufila Nyamadzabo told the audience that under the ESP an estimated P1.43 billion was budgeted for the 2015/16 financial year, which ends in three months time. A further P2.2 billion will be spent in the new financial year 2016/17 which begins on 01 April.

But describing ESP a disorderly process and a big gamble on the unknown, a senior official at the Ministry said government risks losing millions of Pula as a result of poor monitoring of hundreds of projects that will be spread out within various government ministries and departments.

He said ESP projects are bound to fail as they are premised on construction. He warned that the “the nation will see a repeat of Morupule B, Sir Seretse Khama International Airport and BDC Fengyue Glass Manufacturing (Botswana) Palapye Glass Project.”

A document compiled the Ministry of Lands and Housing headed by Prince Maele titled progress on the 2015/16 economic stimulus programme details how government intends to spend millions of Pula on various protects across the country.

The document which is complete with timelines shows that government through the SHAA Turnkey project will spend P43 million in Central District targeting to construct 144 public houses. The project which started on 16 January this year is expected to be completed on 16th April. In the North West District, Government will spend P29.3 million on 93 houses. Thirty one units in Gumare are to commence in the 2nd week of March 2016 while the rest are envisaged to start by the 31st March 2016.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.