FNBB Research Manager Moatlhodi Sebabole says that Matambo’s budget will likely prioritise on maintenance and efficient operation of existing infrastructure and funding key economic infrastructure including water, energy, and communications to support growth. At the same time, Sebabole says the other focus is likely to be on completion of on-going projects as well as funding social welfare programs.
According to the FNBB expert, the usual thematic areas that are likely to be re-iterated in this year’s budget entails sustained growth, employment creation and poverty eradication, improving productivity and sustaining sovereign rating, infrastructure developments, HR investments, enhancement of people’s welfare and livelihoods as well as judicial integrity and corruption combat.
His predictions on post vision 2016 is that the fiscal will be under pressure to deliver on vision 2016 promises as well as pave the way for post-vision. He said the postponement of NDP10 completion also means a hurried approach is likely to ensue so as to push completion of projects. He added that these expansionary fiscal conditions are likely to be inflationary from 2016 onwards and might result in a further squeeze in the budget surplus.
On whether civil servants should expect any salary increment Sebabole said, “Wage hikes are unlikely as government continues to monitor the wage bill which has been increasing overtime due to creation of posts for completed projects, formation of new parastatals and catering for security services. “
The FNBB researcher said that he anticipates a surplus of P1.389 billion (0.8% of GDP) for 2015/16 compared to an estimated surplus of P1 billion in 2014/15 and P3.5 billion in 2013/14.
He pins government revenue and grants at a growth rate of 5.3 percent from the 2014/15 estimate of P50.1 billion, while total expenditure is expected to grow at a modest 4.4 percent to print at P51.4 billion.
Meanwhile another expert at Barclays Bank Botswana, Katso Tshipinare says he anticipates an increase in total revenue and grants bolstered by expected recovery in the mining sector. He pointed out that the non-mineral revenue is also forecast to increase. Tshipinare says the downside risk to this development could be an appreciating Pula against the Rand which have the effect of reducing revenues available to Botswana through Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
Just like Sebabole, Tshipinare says that some of the major economic and fiscal issues to be addressed in the 2015/16 budget include promoting inclusive growth, improving factor productivity, developing appropriate skills and cluster and value-chain in selected sectors, improving project implementation, enhancing business environment, and implementing a Revised Fiscal Rule to achieve the fiscal goal of a sustainable budget.
“The budget for 2015/16 is therefore expected to assist in consolidating on-going programmes and projects for NDP 10, as well as addressing some of the economic and fiscal issues facing the country. However salary adjustment pronouncement may be deferred to the public service Bargaining Council,” said Tshipinare.
At the same time, the Barclays economic expert indicated that intuitively when there is current account surplus which is what they expect in 2015/16 financial year, foreign reserves should increase by the amount of the surplus in Pula terms.
Although a similar invite for “budget predictions” was sent to BancABC experts, the pan Africa bank refused to give their views. Another leading bank Standard Chartered had not responded by the time of going to press.