Although it has been years since the minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo has long promised to establish a website where members of the public can contribute to budget discussions, the envisaged website is still yet to be functional.
The idea would be an imitation of what South Africa has done by creating a website where the public is able to contribute to the budgeting process.
Economist, Lesego Nyeche, who spoke to this publication, indicated that over the years monitoring of the implementation of the budget has been complicated by a lack of public finance data. He also said “some of the departments in the ministry of finance must stop holding back economic data that could be useful to researchers and other global bodies such as the World Bank.”
A few months ago, the world’s only independent and comparative measure of central government budget transparency – Open Budget Index (OBI) ÔÇô urged Botswana to improve public participation in the budget making process. This came after the country performed poorly in the category of public participation scoring 15 out of 100.
Amongst other things Nyeche said economic data from the Central Statistics Office is not dependable, but expressed optimism that the new president would push to ensure an improvement in the facilitation of precise, timely and reliable data. Nyeche also expressed disappointment over the fact that data currently available is outdated, adding that “this is nowhere near the accepted international standards which require such data to be published within three months.”
The government of Botswana has over the years committed itself to global institutions such as the IMF to publish well-timed government finance data.