The President of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), Masego Mogwera has said that contrary to finance minister Kenneth Matambo’s assertions, job creation is indeed the responsibility of government.
In his 2017/18 budget presentation this week Monday, Finance and Economic Development minister Matambo said, “with regard to employment creation, it is important to clarify that the principal role of Government is not to create jobs directly, but to provide a conducive macroeconomic environment to facilitate the development of the private sector.” Mogwera said BOPEU vehemently rejects this proposition and characterises it as an abdication of state responsibility.
She told members of the Press that the latest stance by government on job creation violates the principle of decent work which pursues employment creation as one of its priority areas.
Last year when presenting the budget for 2016/17, the Minister conceded that unemployment, especially among the youth, is one of the development challenges facing this country and to address this, “government has resolved to, among others, use its spending power to boost economic growth and create jobs in the country.” Matambo said at the time that in addition to seeking value for money in spending government budget, efforts will be made to “ensure that such expenditure, whether under recurrent or development budget, contributes to job creation in the country”.
He added, “Some of the economic activities with potential for creating employment opportunities, which government will be undertaking during 2016/17 include; infrastructure backlog eradication, road networks and maintenance, wildlife and tourism initiatives, continued implementation of EDD initiatives, creation of Special Economic Zones, as well as regulatory reforms and improving efficiency.”
Mogwera said as BOPEU they concur that government should create a conducive environment for the private sector to create employment. “However we are of the view that Government has a direct responsibility in job creation without necessarily ballooning the wage bill by identifying strategic sectors such as tourism and mining with a potential for employment creation,” she said adding that the government should retract the statement and reconsider its position.
“The 2017/18 budget speech statement on the role of government in job creation and the 2016/17 budget speech employment creation strategies are a big contradiction,” she said.