Cabinet is expected to receive and approve the final document of the National Employment Policy in Septembler. The NEP is meant to address the high rate of unemployment in the country. Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo told parliament that his ministry is currently finalising the draft which they produced in conjunction with international consultants.

He said government is making final touches to the document after which it will be submitted to Cabinet for approval. “I am hoping by September this year”.  Member of Parliament for Nkange Edwin Batshu had asked Matambo to appraise parliament on the progress made regarding the drafting of a National Employment Policy for Botswana as announced in the last State of the Nation Address by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Matambo said it was true his ministry is developing an overarching National Employment Policy for Botswana in order to address the high rate of unemployment in the country.  The policy is expected to assist the country achieve productive, gainful and decent employment for all, as well as contribute to the reduction in income inequality and support government’s poverty eradication efforts.

Matambo said they are working on the NEP with the assistance of the World Bank.  “I am happy to say a draft policy has since been produced and consultations have been taking place with stakeholders through workshops, which were held at first on the 21st of March this year and the next on the 25th of June this year”.

Batshu then asked why the policy was not availed on the targeted date of March as per President Masisi’s promise in his SONA, and if as the ministry they have told the nation of their anticipated delay so that the nation does not remain hopeful. Matambo said he was not fully aware of the date of March.

“Had it been in the answer, I would have tried to find out information, as to precisely why we did not meet the target of March so that then I will be able to answer you fully”. The minister assured parliament that he had been discussing NEP with his staff to see whether it was not possible to deliver it before September.   “However as you would be aware from past experience, the consultations are very important. We do not want to bring something here which is half-cooked and then you all tear it to pieces”, he said.

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The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo said the ministry is in the process of drafting the credit information bill to improve access to credit by small businesses.

Presenting the budget for the Ministry to legislators on Tuesday, Matambo said as part of implementing the national financial inclusion roadmap and strategy that runs from 2015 to 2021, the ministry is in the process of drafting the bill. “The bill will seek to improve both positive and negative financial information which will improve access to credit which is extended to small businesses and citizens,” said Matambo.

He said currently, Botswana Savings Bank (BSB), which focuses on developing low cost accessible and flexible savings products for the low-income earners currently excluded from the formal banking sector, is driving the financial inclusion mandate.  The bank is expected to open two more branches in Hukuntsi and Kanye this year. Matambo proposed the budget of P1. 5 billion for his ministry out of which the recurrent budget amounts to P 950 million (64.8%) while development budget amounts to P515 million (35.2%).
The Botswana financial inclusion roadmap 2015 to 2021 objective is to help improve citizens’ welfare and support national objectives.

The roadmap is based on the diagnostic findings contained in making access possible.  According to the research findings by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development published in 2015, formal access to finance stands at 68 percent. With most segments having broad access to financial services, 46 percent of adults use more than one product category including savings, credit, insurance and payments.  “However, access is still a challenge in certain segments and 24 percent are completely excluded, mainly in the lower income, rural and remote populations.” Among the key findings pointed as the barriers to financial inclusion in Botswana, are low income and lack of understanding of financial products.

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Commenting on the budget allocation on Thursday, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo said the tender awarding committee should be made ad hock and anonymous to reduce corruption in the tender awarding system.

“We need more deliberate efforts to fight corruption as it has hit this country so hard. We need to shift the tender committees and make them ad hock and anonymous, invite many professionals that are very experienced in structuring and closing deals in the private, public partnership projects because we have many talented and well trained Batswana,” said Kenewendo. Last year the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board introduced the Code of ethics for procurement personnel.The institution states that tender committees should be given full powers to adjudicate, award, issue instructions to tenderers and oversee project implementation.

The PPAD Act allows the Board to adjudicate and award tenders for Central Government and any other institutions specified under the PPADB Act for the delivery of works, services and supplies of related services.  It also deals with the registration and grading of contractors who wishes to do business with government

She said the economic growth of the country is commendable at 4, 7 percent compared to other African countries but government should ensure that the budget speaks to this in implementation. “We need to ensure that our budget does not only speak in figures but there should be delivery and we will be able to create jobs, open doors and facilitate wealth creation in Botswana,” However, she pointed out that there is a concern as Batswana front on business reserved for them by government. “This is stealing, there should be a deliberate action and punishment to stop this. Fronting is a serious issue and we are currently looking at how we are addressing this issue as a ministry but it is also a legal issue,” she said.

She also pointed out that in the oil industry which government has identified to empower Batswana, it is alleged that Batswana are leaving it because they are offered what seems as a good deal in the short term. Presenting the 2019 Budgets Speech Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo said government has already put in place measures to address some of the concerns about doing business in Botswana. He said government is keen on promoting its long standing principle of inclusive growth and equitable distribution of wealth in Botswana by giving citizens the opportunity to have ownership through privatisation of profit making public enterprises.

Recently, PPADB Supplies Executive Director, Kgakgamalo Ketshajwang told the media that the development of the code is in line with Section 90 of the PPAD Act, which mandates PPADB to ensure that a code of ethical behavior for procurement personnel is in place and enforced.

“Compliance with the provisions of the Code of Ethics is mandatory for all procurement practitioners who are engaged in the service of Procuring Entities covered under Sections 3 and 8 of the PPAD Act. This code will enhance integrity and ethical conduct of public officers handling procurement as global procurement and supply chain standard will be followed and appropriate action taken against those breaching the code,” said Ketshajwang.

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