The cost of living has gone up by 30% since the last salaries review which took place in 2004, and there are fears that if Government were to top up the recently awarded 15% salary hike, Botswana’s economy would go down on its knees as a result of multiple dimensional effects of excess demand. Sunday Standard has established.
Analysts, responding to Public Service Unions’ protest against Government’s refusal to allow them a 30% hike of wages, have expressed skepticism and concern that such action would amount to miserable visitation on the unemployed and the rural poor.
Dr Imogen Mogotsi, Head of Department at the University of Botswana, said, “Given that Botswana’s inflation is not just domestically induced, any further increase carries the potential to heighten inflation to a point where it would spell a serious economic crisis.”
Although Mogotsi said that it should be acknowledged that in between previous salaries review and this year’s, there were some inflationary adjustment increases.
Moshe Noga, Secretary General of the Botswana Land Boards and Local Authorities Workers union, had this to say, “What then informed the decision of Government in spending P7 million in financing the sittings of the Ibrahim commission only to throw all its recommendations out of the window?”
To highlight Government’s lack of insincerity, Noga also wondered at the state’s tactic of taking away, for instance, the Leave Travel Concession, knowing that it was something which was arrived at by consultation, only to return it under a protest atmosphere so as to deceive unions into some false sense of victory when, in fact, there is nothing new in all of the listed responses by the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Daniel Kwelagobe.
BOCCIM’s Deputy Executive Director, Norman Moleele, said whilst the workers are entitled to demanding what they feel would better their lives, he maintains that Government is equally responsible for considering things like affordability, sustainability and whether the workforce is productive enough to perform.
To compound the situation, there have been reports in the media recently, of imminent World food shortages (some countries considering producing bio-fuel from food stuffs like maize etc), swelling oil prices, all of which, prices are determined outside our boarders. It is also common knowledge that most of the food stuffs in our country are imported, not to mention the fact that ours is a highly open economy’.
Sunday Standard has established on authority that the rural poor are the most affected by such developments. Cost of living index table prepared by the Central Statistics Office indicates that whilst the cost of living has gone up by 30% in the Towns and Cities since the past salaries review, for the rural poor its 33.3% as of December 2007.
Things are not getting any better.