The Economic Stimulus Program (ESP) ÔÇô a package introduced as a way to reinvigorate the economy through increased Government spending ÔÇô is bearing fruits, as indicated by President Dr. Ian Khama during his presentation of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
Since inception in 2015, the economic program has created 18 867 jobs out of which 8718 (47 percent) are held by young people. The President did not however provide context to this figure in terms of making a comparison to the initial target number of jobs set under ESP. The lack of analysis against a specified target is often described by pundits as a limitation particularly in providing an account of the job absorption rate against the available pool of human resource.
Job creation is one of the country’s top priorities and has remained so over the past few years. However as recent happenings are showing, the creation of jobs is increasingly being diluted by the significant employee layoffs that have been reported particularly in the mining industry as well as in state owned enterprises. Economists argue that the creation of jobs does not have a significant impact on the economy if on the other hand jobs are being lost as this cancels out those that have been created.
ESP was introduced as a way to boost economic growth through increased government spending in response to the lethargic economic conditions. The sluggish economic state threatened to reverse the economic gains trend that the country had produced for decades. ESP has a specific focus on construction, manufacturing, tourism and agricultural activities and also fast tracks the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) and the Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
In the 2015 SONA President Khama had highlighted that ESP will push down the backlog of public projects as well as open up labour intensive activities that promote local enterprises. However when citing the number of registered enterprises under EDD in the 2016 SONA, he did not specify the contribution of ESP in the promotion of local enterprises. President Khama said since the inception of the EDD in 2010, it has recorded 1896 registered enterprises.
The president also announced a supplementary project expected to be rolled out in 2017 for the increased delivery of infrastructure through community projects which will be overseen by local government and rural development.