The Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) election promises and pomposity are not only ridiculous but completely out of touch with the current economic realities of our country. Their pledges, unfortunately, will mean higher taxes, cutbacks on some critical social services like healthcare, water and sanitation; and eventual economic collapse, says His Excellency, President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
“The UDC is making various reckless and irrational undertakings stating that it will be able to deliver 100,000 jobs within 12 months; offer a monthly living minimum wage of P3,000; guarantee an old age pension of P1,500 a month; and a student allowance of P2,500. Any experienced economist would tell you that this is unrealistic, and an unashamed ploy to win votes through dishonest promises and spin doctoring,” said President Masisi.
While the BDP-led government recognises the right of every party, including the UDC, to market itself to the electorate, it is important to point out issues that may be harmful to the country and that could have the potential to collapse Botswana’s economy in no time.
“These nonsensical claims must stop now, our people should not be deceived by the myths that drive the UDC’s promises,” the President said.
“We need to first transform our economy - without risk of collapse - so that it is able to sustain amplified salaries, stipends and social provisions. It is easy to say let us dish out money and anyone can do exactly that. But any responsible leader would look into sustainability and what is currently possible given our economic situation. This is why I am fanatical about realistic transformation of our economy,” President Masisi added.
In the meantime, Botswana’s economy is still heavily reliant on mineral revenue, and the diamond trading markets have their own challenges, including Debswana’s decision to begin funding the Cut 3 and Cut 9 projects, of which Government is to fund 80% of the total cost. In terms of other immediate fiscus pressures, civil servants’ salary adjustments have been affected. Admittedly, the increases are not sufficient as yet, but the BDP-led government will keep adjusting incomes as the economy is strengthened over the next five years. These are the true facts Botswana is faced with, and a reality government is changing with our economic transformation agenda.
“The BDP government finds the UDC’s election manifesto delusional and totally unrealistic for a party that claims to be ready to take over the running of Government in the next three months. The UDC seems to be oblivious to fundamental facts about the economy and it is clear that they do not have an understanding of local and international economic data on Botswana,” President Masisi continued.
The BDP government works on the proven principle that growth in employment is a function of economic development and believes that the problem of employment creation can be addressed by expanding the economy.
“Therefore, the BDP-government continuously adopts and reviews policies and new strategies to promote economic growth as a necessary condition for sustainable and meaningful job creation. The forecast is an average annual growth rate of 2.1% and a projected employment growth rate of 4.4% which currently translates into 10,000 new jobs each year. We plan to stimulate and increase the economy through a number of initiatives including developing SMMEs; funding the youth’s ventures in digital entrepreneurship, research and development; pushing agri-businesses; and the attraction of local and foreign investment in new and existing businesses ranging from mining, manufacturing, and agriculture, right through to tech driven start-ups, to name but a few. These will help us create far more jobs than the projected 10,000 per annum,” added the President.
According to the World Bank, the Economy of Africa had an average GDP growth of 3.1% in 2018 so for the UDC to be able to create 100,000 jobs, it would have to instantly grow Botswana’s economy by 25%. “This is an irresponsible and misleading claim, aimed at hoodwinking voters,” President Masisi said.
Likewise, the President added, the UDC’s claims to double the minimum wage to P3,000 a month would have an adverse effect on both Government and private sector businesses. Facts have shown that businesses faced with an increased labour bill usually react by cutting back on employment of workers or by substituting capital for labour which severely hampers job creation. In terms of the current economic climate, introducing a minimum wage of P3,000 per month will result in thousands of workers losing their jobs because of unaffordability.
The UDC’s election promise to almost quadruple the Old Age Pension allowance from P530 to P1,500 per beneficiary per month, will require an increase in the budget provision from P745 million to more than P2 billion. This translates to an increase of P682 million for the remaining six months in the current financial year.
These impractical and idealistic statements indicate that the UDC is not ready to govern. They have not done their homework and have simply suggested bogus figures to try excite people into voting for them. They cannot be trusted with running the country. Someone has to pay for these additional expenditures.
“This is truly an irresponsible undertaking that will negatively affect the budget, which would necessitate higher income tax and VAT to offset the increased expenditure.
“Thanks to the BDP, Botswana is one of the few countries in Africa that gives tertiary students free, quality education and a stipend. The UDC has pledged to increase student allowances from P1,464 to P2,500 for more than 29,000 beneficiaries. This represents an increase in the current cost of 13.6%, which is simply unaffordable for the fiscus,” the President said.
He reiterated that the BDP’s manifesto provides solid and practical solutions to address Batswana’s concerns, to drive sustainable job creation, and inclusive economic growth for all.
“Batswana, you have told us that you want an inclusive economy in which you will participate in wealth creation. You’ve said that you want a transformed economy that is able to create jobs for our unemployed and our graduates. You’ve asked for an improved education and training system that is innovative and creates a knowledge-based economy. You want a free and fair society anchored on respect for the rule of law. You want a corruption free society. You want a government that is committed to an environment that allows for a free, independent, and viable media.
“We have listened to you and we have delivered a manifesto that addresses your concerns. The BDP is not offering you wild and irresponsible promises for electoral gains. Our manifesto offers pragmatic solutions for Botswana to Advance Together Towards A More Inclusive Economy,” concludes President Masisi.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Communication & IR Committee (CIRC).