A trade unionist has challenged the analysis made in the 2015/16 budget speech about Botswana’s total factor productivity.
“Madam Speaker, a recent challenge to the promotion of growth and economic diversification has been the declining total factor productivity in the domestic economy, especially labour productivity. In this regard, Government will continue to put in place measures to promote productivity that include: reforming the country’s education and training system; improving work ethic through training the workforce; as well as reviewing labour legislation; with a view to promoting efficiency in the labour market,” said Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo, when presenting the budget.
Total factor productivity (TFP) refers to the productivity of all factors involved as a whole in a production activity. ┬áThe principal measure of productivity is labor productivity, which measures the productivity of workers in an economy and is considered an important measure of an economy’s ability to expand.
Edward Tswaipe, who heads education, training and research arm of the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) contests Matambo’s conception of TFP as relates to the Botswana situation.
“We are not told whether there has been a study that indicates a decline in TFP, let alone labour productivity? When making these averments, the minister did not tell us which sectors of labour were unproductive. To us as labour, such disclosures would have been helpful in suggesting targeted solutions. We wouldn’t want to conclude that we are merely dealing with an opinion or feelings of government about Botswana workers,” says Tswaipe, adding that in the absence of a named source, they are only left to speculate.
He contrasts Matambo’s statement with a 2007 study by the Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC) which clearly identified sectors and indicated the level to which they were unproductive. Tswaipe further contends that as labour, their appreciation of the minister’s statement is constrained by the fact that it is unclear which indices of productivity (those used in the World Bank’s Doing Business, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness and the 2007 BNPC Productivity reports) the minister referring to.
“Labour productivity is a dynamic issue ÔÇô it is not just about laziness. Some of the causes include poor skills, conflictual industrial relations and others. For instance, how would we expect a worker owed two months’ pay to be productive? The minister’s statement that labour productivity is the problem is an issue we may want to take up with him to understand where he comes from,” says Tswaipe who previously worked as lecturer in Employee Relations at the Botswana Public Service College (BPSC) before joining the BOPEU secretariat.┬á“We believe it would have been better if the minister had taken the nation on board about which sectors appear problematic – whether it is the taxi industry, farm workers or engineers. Blanket accusation usually ends up with poorly thought-out solutions.”