The Minister of Finance and Economic Development- Honourable Dr. Thapelo Matsheka will on the 1st of February 2021 deliver his second budget speech for the financial year 2021/2022. The big question is, what should we expect from his briefcase?
Taking some points from the 2020/2021 national budget speech, “Growing the economy for Job creation; and social programmes to sustain livelihoods” was one milestone that one would be interested in its progress- here are some of its pointers;
Investing in economic infrastructure to support transformation.
To move from the current “middle-income trap”, Matsheka said there is a need to invest in appropriate infrastructure which he said is critical in enhancing productivity and economic growth. The government committed itself in that regard to embark on an infrastructural transformation encompassing electricity/energy, water, rail/roads and technology. The budget allocated over half of the 2020/2021 development budget in this manner; Water allocated P1.372 billion, Transport allocated P1.3 billion, Agriculture allocated P862 million, ICT allocated P823 million, Land Servicing allocated P541.5 million, and energy allocated P521 million.
The minister indicated that in regards to ICT, in efforts to expand excess to the broadband internet services, the government through BOFINET has started rolling out Fibre-to-business and Fibre-to-home in the 2020/2021 financial year in Gaborone. The programme was expected to extend to other parts of Botswana.
Developing Human Capital to support transformation
Acknowledging the need to shift from a resource-based to knowledge-based economy, the minister indicated that the government is committed to developing its human capital base. Matsheka indicated that P20 billion is proposed for allocation to the education and health sectors. He further stated that his government will be rolling out the implementation of the Human Resource Development Plan during the 2020/2021 financial year; the plan’s goal was to enhance the employability of tertiary graduates.
On agriculture, the minister said the government will revise and revisit the existing agricultural programmes and schemes “with the view of aligning them to the refocused role of the agricultural sector under the transformation agenda”. ISPAAD, LIMID and other subsidy schemes we to be revisited.
What’s the way forward?
It is understandable that COVID-19 has interrupted and disrupted most of the plans and the milestones that the government has set and committed to- the reduction ISPAAD hectares from five (5) to four (4) as an example. In that regard, one would expect the minister to give an update on the progress of the above mentioned and others, if they were postponed to the following financial year following the need to divert money to curbing COVID-19.