Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) is disturbed by the government’s deafening silence in the budget speech as to what measures have been taken to address continued failure by those responsible, to observe projects implementation schedules, timelines and financial costing projections.
As such the effect of the present budget is that again; there will be no way of determining what will become of the public spending for another financial year in terms of compliance with stipulated project objectives, schedules and forecast financial costs. This is despite promises made at all the past budget speeches and supposedly novel systems and processes proposed to tackle attending bottlenecks.
The immediate past Finance Minister Mr. Kenneth Mathambo, had submitted in his 2019 budget speech, “I must hasten to say that implementation or slow implementation within both government and the private sector, continues to be worrisome”.
Compounding matters, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development
(MFED), DR. Thapelo Matsheka’s speech like the other entire previous budget speeches does not mention specific terms accountability measures owing to failed projects’ implementation. This is despite the cost of such lapses to the economy and implications for the integrity or credibility of the country’s budgeting system.
Matsheka has said, “Though a significant amount of the budget is proposed for infrastructure development in the next financial year, the major challenge is project implementation. There is an urgent need to put in place measures to address the problem of delayed project delivery if the country is to transform to high income status.”
Further that it was unacceptable that there have been continuous instances
where development budget was consistently underspent in spite of efforts to align the annual budget requests with the capacity of the implementing Ministries and Departments.
As a deterrent measure to leakages and lapses, it is very critical that special emphasis be laid on governance not just in terms of written processes but also ensuring that those responsible for project implementation are held to account for every excess at every stage of the projects.
BONELA views the allocation of P7.73 billion to the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MHW) as progressive considering the government’s declared commitment especially since the advent of President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Administration, to situate health care within government’s human capital development strategy aimed at growing the economy in real terms.
The P7.73 billion is for the provision of drugs, vaccines and dressings, and more importantly to increase access to anti-retroviral therapy (ART). BONELA further applauds the decentralization of services to the districts through Regional Health Management Teams (RHMT) with a view to strengthening service delivery among communities, involvement of the private sector in service delivery and the development of an e-health strategy to enhance quality, safety and turn around compliance as well as efficiency of health systems and services generally.
It was also announced that guidelines for the standardization and strengthening of the delivery of a minimum health care package will be extended to respective communities through the RHMTs once they are operationalized.
BONELA believes the decision to operationalize RHMTs in the districts would be well served if government can also expedite a realistic review of the systems and processes involved right from procurement up to the point of delivery of services, with a view to enable improvement and effectiveness of the envisaged RHMT strategy.
In the ultimate analysis, BONELA hopes all civil society seizes on the
opportunity offered by President Masisi’s declared amenability to scrutiny, to hold government to account on every promise it made by way of the recent budget speech.