Thursday, July 9, 2020

“Lazy” Bureaucrats continue to harm Botswana economy – Experts

Civil service may be havens for idlers, but such crop of labour force continue to do more harm than good to the domestic economy, so says leading local economists.

If asked to describe Botswana civil servants, independent economic think tank – Econsult Botswana could use just under three words: Inefficient, wasteful and, in parts, obstructive.

The economic firm says Botswana’s economic development is increasingly being held back by the country’s public servants.

A team of three economists who work at Econsult cautions through a quarterly economic review that in an upper-middle income country like Botswana, there is no reason for the quality of public services to be more akin to those that would be expected in a low- or lower-middle income country.

“Citizens have a right to expect that government will deliver services, especially those that are not complicated: get the streetlights and traffic lights working, fix potholes, get textbooks in the schools and medicines in the clinics and make sure that government IT systems work”, reads part of the Q4:2019 economic review report compiled by Econsult.

Led by former deputy governor at Bank of Botswana, Dr Keith Jefferies, the firm says the government sector is huge and impacts on almost all aspects of daily life and economic activity. It is also in need of urgent reform, to introduce much greater accountability, and to ensure that it discharges its mandates efficiently.

In 2015, the World Bank prepared a Strategic Country Diagnostic for Botswana, to underpin the Bank’s country assistance programme over the subsequent decade. The Bank commented that:

“Above all, improving outcomes in Botswana will require a significant reform and modernization of the public sector, which is increasingly seen as a source of weakness rather than strength. Poor outcomes in public investment have been most visible, but the problems appear to run across the board. Reforms will require improvements in planning, procurement, and management processes. They will also require far greater attention to monitoring and evaluation. But more than anything, they will require a new approach to government – a mindset that focuses on efficiency and accountability. This, in turn, will require improvements in capacity (human capital), as well as an adoption of modern technologies and techniques. Support for a more effective public service, as well more informed policymaking, requires substantial upgrading of statistical capacity to ensure access to more regular, consistent, and comprehensive data”.

Econsult says the set up described by the World Bank remains as true as it did five years ago.

“In our view, the key to transformation in Botswana is public sector reform – not just central and local government, but parastatals as well”.

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