Half of Botswana ‘s national budget goes to public employees salaries

  • Government spending P2.3 billion on salaries every month
  • Around P27 billion annually.
  • Botswana Wage bill is too big- IMF/ World Bank

Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Kabo Morwaeng says Botswana’s Public service is way too big, too expensive to maintain and not sustainable.

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Speaking in Parliament last Monday Minister Morwaeng said Batswana should understand that there are many ways to serve the country outside Government.

He was responding to a question from Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central, Tumisang Magwegape Healy who wanted to know the number of people employed in the public service and how much is spent on their monthly salaries.

Minister Morwaeng revealed that government spends over P2.3 billion on public servants salaries monthly, a figure he referred to as “unsustainable” signaling the need to reduce the size of public service, especially in these unprecedented times of declining government revenue.

Currently the total number of people employed in the public service stands at 143 050 with 125 203 employed by the Central government and 17 847 employed under local authorities and councils.

Parliament  was told that in the month of July alone government spent a total of P2.36 billion on public servants salaries with 2.17 billion  settling wages of those in the Central government and P193 million for local government employees.

“This wage bill is too big, we are spending a lot of money on public servants salaries, it is not sustainable” Minister Morwaeng said.

The Minister who is in charge of the civil service as the political head  ,reporting directly to the President revealed that Government is currently restructuring the public service and government machinery to align it to President Masisi ‘s “reset” agenda with a view  to enhance efficiency professional service delivery.

“We are also encouraging our public servants to go for early retirement so that they can explore other avenues while still fit do so, as Batswana we should understand that there are many other ways we could serve our country, it’s not all about working for the government” he said.

STRUCTURE OF BOTSWANA’S PUBLIC SECTOR

Botswana Public Sector comprises of the Local Authorities, Parastatal Organizations and the Public Service. Public Service constitutes of all ministries and independent departments in Central Government.

The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) has the statutory responsibility for administering the public service in terms of the Public Service Act. Local Government Service is catered for by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

Parastatal sub-sector is part of the broader Public Sector and consists of quasi-governmental organizations and government agencies, many of which are created or established through Acts of Parliament.

Parastatals exist to provide goods and services; which central government is not well placed to provide. Government holds equity in most parastatal organizations and is represented in the Boards that run them.

According to the 2011 Labour Statistics Report (Statistics Botswana, 2015), the population employed in all the sectors in the economy stood at 640 567.

Of this total, Local Government constituted 20.8% of the total employed, Central Government 26.3%, Parastatal 4.4%, while Private Sector constituted 48.5%. The Public Sector therefore, had a larger population of 51.5% population of the employed within the economy.

BALLOONING WAGE BILL

In 2020 Budget Speech it emerged that Botswana’s wage bill had significantly increased following salary increment for some quarters of the public service in 2019, in particular to a large extent those in the law enforcement fronts.

Botswana Prisons Service experienced wage bill increase of about 51 percent to P412.6 million, while Botswana Police Service (BPS) wage bill went up by 44 percent to P2.2 billion, Botswana Defence Force (BDF) salary expenses surged by 32 percent to P3.9 billion. The Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) got just over 10 percent increase in wage bill to P266 million.

In the last quarter of 2020, Government with effect from 1st September 2020 paid public officers salary increment, together with the arrears from 1st April 2020. The increases were 10% for Salary Bands “A” and “B” and 6% for “C” and “D” respectively.

CONCERNS FROM IMF, WORLD BANK

For many years Bretton Woods institutions : The World Bank, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) criticized the size of Botswana Public Service advising the government shrink and give way for private sector grow.

“Fiscal reforms are needed to lock-in consolidation efforts. They include civil service reform, acceleration of plans to rationalize the parastatal sector and improve its governance, and a strengthening of the fiscal framework to better anchor fiscal policy and increase credibility” the IMF said in its assessment of Botswana in April this year.

According to the World Bank Botswana ‘s Public sector is way too big its overwhelming and impeding the growth of the private sector.

The Washington DC headquartered global lender says Government’ s wage bill is unsustainable. Botswana spends almost half of the recurrent budget on salaries.

For the entire financial year 2021/22 Government is estimated to spend over P27 billion on public service salaries from a total financial year recurrent budget of P50.6 billion.

 

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