Friday, January 22, 2021

Scarce skills allowance won’t kill private sector

The recent introduction of the ‘attraction and retention policy’ for the public service by government would not crowd out the private sector in the labour market, analysts have concurred.
This is a rare conclusion, in view of the fact that in the past, government, through annual wage adjustments and Debswana’s high entry salary scales, were bashed for pushing wages higher in other sectors of the economy and in the process rendering them uncompetitive ÔÇô a thing that was seen as countering private sector nurturing.

“We must understand that this is not salary restructuring ÔÇô the scarce skills do not affect basic salary. Again, the arrangement is cyclical. Government has said it is temporary, so it means that there would be correction in the long run,” explained Senior Economics Lecturer at the University of Botswana, Gaotlhobwe Motlaleng. He added that the private sector has always been competitive when it comes to wages and “if there is any adjustment to make, it is likely to be marginal because private sector salaries are high in any case.”
The attraction and retention policy, he explained, would boost private sector efficiency.

When introducing the policy, in his directive to government departments, the Director of Public Service Management (DPSM), Molebeledi Oagile, cautioned that before the allowance is payable, the eligible employee must sign an undertaking that the allowance shall be terminated when evidence no longer indicates that the skill is in short supply and it can be reduced if the degree of scarcity of the identified scarce skill occupation declines. The allowance is payable to both citizen and non-citizen employees. A Technical Committee comprising DPSM and the Employment and Manpower Planning Section in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning would be formed with the mandate of carrying out an annual skills audit in order to determine areas of greatest need.

The Chief Executive Officer of Motswedi Securities, Martin Makgatlhe, welcomed the government’s policy, saying the move signals that government is serious about its pursuit of improving public sector efficiency and competitiveness.
“Government has been losing talent to the private sector and now it is becoming competitive, and that is a good thing to the economy as a whole. We expect it to improve productivity and efficiency overtime, not in the short run,” he explained.

The move, he said, would obviously pose a challenge to the private sector, which he implored to take corrective measures such engaging in its own training and development.

“There is enough talent in the streets that has been churned out by the university and the challenge is for us the private sector to train and develop it. This is what the President said during his inauguration speech, that the private sector should take a lead in economic development. Government cannot do it alone,” he said.

On whether the move would not defeat the fight against inflation in view of the fact government injected an additional P1.7 billion into economy in the form of 15% salary increment, Makgatlhe differed.

“The dilemma is that government has a lot of responsibility ÔÇô and sometimes its mandate to the public is conflicting. Some of the measures would be of an inflationary nature, but we cannot look at things in isolation ÔÇô we should also consider the broader picture,” he explained.

He conceded that in the short-run, however, the policy would be inflationary. The government’s retention policy comes in the wake of wide spread inflationary pressures. The all time high inflation figures are caused by the ever rising oil prices and food prices.

Occupation Allowance as a percentage of the Basic Salary
Medical Doctors 40%
Dentists 40%
Engineers 40%
Architects 40%
Quantity Surveyors 40%
Pharmacists 40%
Chemists 40%
Veterinarians 40%
Chartered Accountants 40%
Laboratory Scientists 40%
Speech Therapists 40%
Laboratory Technicians 40%
Veterinary Technicians 40%
Aircraft Pilots 35%
Computer Systems Designers/Analysts/ Programmers 35%
Lawyers, Judges & Other Leg. Professionals( E Band and above) 35%
Lawyers, Judges & Other Leg. Professionals( D Band) 30%
Economists 30%
Town & Traffic Planners 30%
Geologists & Geophysicists 30%
Cartographers & Surveyors 30%
Psychologists 30%
Pharmacy Technicians 30%
Dieticians 30%
Lawyers, Judges & Other Leg. Professionals( C Band) 25%
IT Technicians 25%
Management Analysts 25%
Radiographers/ Radiography Technicians 20%
Architectural & Engineering Technicians (Excluding IT) 15%
Occupational Therapists/Physiotherapists 15%

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