The Finance and Economic Development Minister, Kenneth Matambo, has said that he is unable to provide details of recent job losses that have been generally allied to liquidations and collapse of companies.
Selebi Phikwe West Member of Parliament Dithapelo Keorapetse had on Tuesday asked Matambo to explain to Parliament the rate of job losses in the economy over the last 24 months.
Keorapetse further requested him to break down the statistics relating to job losses by sectors due to retrenchments, liquidations as well as collapse of companies.
In his response, Matambo stated that although the government statistics agency, Statistics Botswana, conducts quarterly formal employment surveys to monitor the state of formal employment in the economy, collected data does not detail reasons for the job losses.
“Information on formal employment is collected from business establishments and enterprises, which include government both central and local authorities, parastatals, companies and other entities in the formal sector.
“I am afraid the collection in presentation of this statistical information does not detail the reasons for the job losses. My Ministry is therefore unable to provide the details of losses due to liquidations, collapse of companies or any other reason,” Matambo said.
In an Interview with Sunday Standard late Friday, Keorapetse expressed disappointment at Matambo’s response: “I am perturbed by his response especially the fact that he couldn’t update Parliament on how many people lost jobs due to retrenchment, liquidations, collapse of companies and other reasons.
“If we do not have a clue on that how do we intervene through public policy? How is the government going to deal with job losses without information?”
As part of the Tuesday response, Matambo told Parliament that the latest unemployment statistics was updated during the 2013 Botswana AIDS Impact Survey. He further said that Statistics Botswana is analysing the 2015/16 Botswana Multi-Topic Survey (BMTHS), which will provide updates on total employment and unemployment rates.
“Going forward, Statistics Botswana will undertake a continuous Multi-Topic Survey to produce quarterly estimates of unemployment rates covering both formal and informal sectors”.
In March 2015, in a similar fashion as this week, Matambo resisted calls for ad-hoc unemployment survey calling on Parliament and the entire nation to “wait for a comprehensive national survey that will incorporate all sectors to present a well informed unemployment rate”.
At the time, Matambo said that he was not in a position to avail the unemployment figures because such analysis would be incorrect, given signs of economic growth on the one hand, and a spate of retrenchments by some companies on the other.
Meanwhile, Parliament was further told that during the 24 months between September 2014 and September 2016, formal sector employment increased from 404 461 to 408 938, which was a modest increase of 4 177 (1.1 percent).
Over the same period, formal sector employment declines were recorded in the Mining and Quarrying by 2.7 percent (from 12 547 to 12 372, Financial Intermediaries by 3.6 percent (from 9 013 to 8 687), Central Government by 0.6 percent (from 104 317 to 103 696), Local Government (Ipelegeng included) by 1.0 percent (from 89 955 to 89 031) and Local Government (excluding Ipelegeng) by 4.0 % (from 25,601 to 24,583).
On the other hand, private sector employment went down by an estimated total of 641 employees. The most affected sectors were water & electricity which recorded a decline of 82 percent (576 employees) of its employment compliment.
Sector Job losses in percents
Mining and Quarrying 2.7%
Financial Intermediaries 3.6%
Central Government 0.6%
Local Government (Ipelegeng included) 1.0%
Local Government excluding Ipelegeng) 4.0%