Voice Reporter Tumisang M Tlhabiwe takes a look at the merits and demerits of the National Development Plan
Last week Wednesday marked Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo’s, presentation speech pertinent to the eleventh edition of the National Development Plan (NDP).
Since then much commentary has been attributed to the failures of the previous NDP 10 and its accompanying goals of Vision 2016.
As a consequence, an abundance of cynicism has shrouded NDP 11 and its accompanying Vision 2036.
In fact the pessimism has reached its zenith; so much so that skeptics and conspiracy theorists claim that the Bot50 celebrations were a deliberate ploy intended to deviate attention away from the failures of the past eight years.
These skeptics however, neglect to mention the volatility of the global economy since the US housing bubble popped in 2008, subsequently plunging the entirety of the world in global recession.
It is of little wonder that certain goals were unachievable in such turbulent economic climates.
It is perhaps time to commend the often maligned government for steering the ship in dark and stormy waters.
NDP 10 may have not solved all the country’s ills but it certainly has provided a foundation of which we can hope to build a more sustainable future.
The proportion of individuals living in abject poverty or below $1.25 per day has drastically decreased from 24.5% to 6.4%.
This achievement facilitated Botswana’s ability to surpass the Millennium Development Goals target of reducing extreme poverty by half.
In fact most of the Millennium Development Goals were attained. Extreme poverty and hunger has been eradicated, universal primary education has been attained, under-five mortality rate has plummeted, the spread of HIV/AIDS (although still alarming) has drastically reduced and the same can be said with the number of people without access to safe drinking water.
NDP 10 also managed to shrink the inflation rate from 7.4% to 2.6% as of August 2016 – a problem that threatened to create a scenario in which consumer prices eclipsed the average wage rate.
It is also worthy to note that the mining sector contracted by 3.4% per annum while the non-mining sector grew by 5.6% per annum.
The increased contribution of the non-mining sector is said to have saved the economy from experiencing full blown recession.
However, relying less on the mining sector is not indicative of economic diversification pertinent to Botswana’s revenue streams.
In that regard, NDP 10 can be said to have failed as a significant proportion of Government revenue was driven by mineral revenues – a total of 35.8%.
In fact Matambo notes in his presentation that “This calls for urgent efforts to increase and diversify the revenue base.”
Other failures of NDP 10 include formal unemployment growing at an average rate of 1.5% per annum – a point that has incited much consternation towards the government especially amongst the youth.
The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that the private sector, which absorbs 56% of the workforce, is growing minimally at a rate of 1.2% which may suggest that private entities may reduce/retrench employees in the future to compensate for reduced growth.
However, as alluded to before, these failures must be viewed in the context of the circumstances.
The recovery in the global economy and individual economies has transpired at a snail’s pace due to low global demand, lack of consumer confidence and low commodity prices.
This has substantially hindered the development of many developing countries, which like Botswana, are heavily reliant on natural commodity resources.