Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo will on Monday deliver possibly his last Budget Speech since there is no guarantee that he will be retained in his position if the ruling party wins elections.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi chose to retain him in the past few months after taking over ostensibly to ensure continuity in the sensitive finance portfolio. If he wins elections set for October, Masisi is expected to unveil his own team. There is also the likelihood that the opposition could win state power.
Matambo took the finance portfolio incidentally. At the time he was not a Member of Parliament with President Ian Khama exercising presidential pejorative to offer him an acting position when the then Minister – the late Baledzi Gaolathe – went on extended sick leave.
But as he takes centre stage, he once more carries the nation’s hopes for economic revival and re-engineering that will deliver sustainable jobs for many unemployed youth and offer a lucrative salary increment for public servants who have consistently complained of their conditions of service.
This year being an election year it is feared that Government – the ruling party – will be enticed by political expediency to increase public servants salaries substantially so that they return the favour by re-electing them to power. The public servants’ desperate call comes from the fact that over the past 10 years they have not enjoyed any big salary increase – having been limited only annual 3 per cent increases.
Negotiations are currently underway with all public sector unions while a commission set up by President Masisi to look at salaries for politicians and judges has already delivered its report. It was the intention of Government to start paying such increased salaries from April this year when the new budget is rolled out.
Delayed negotiations mean that Matambo will not be able to disclose the rate of increase on Monday. The Ministry of Finance has already warned that the country’s budget deficit could widen to P6.8 billion this new financial if the government awards a hefty salary hike to civil servants.
In fact its road map for the budget has already been set in the Budget Strategy Paper. Government intends to strive to live within its means by producing a budget that is affordable and sustainable, yet responsive to people’s needs. “It is critical that by the end of the Plan period – NDP 11 –, all planned programmes are achieved in order to take the country forward. However, to achieve this will require adoption of measures to increase the country’s implementation capacity,” said the Ministry of Finance.
The Ministry projected a proposed 2019/2020 total expenditure budget allocations amount to P66.40 billion, representing an increase of 5.9 percent from the current year’s revised budget of P62.69 billion. Of this amount, the ministry said the share of the proposed Recurrent Expenditure is P49.00 billion, to cater for personal emoluments & pensions, other charges and grants and subventions to state-owned enterprises and local authorities. “On the other hand, a Development Budget of P17.47 billion is proposed to finance on-going and new programmes and infrastructural projects being implemented throughout the country. However, the implementation of the development budget is likely to continue to be undermined by implementation capacity, which characterises both the public and private sectors.”