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Office of the President (OP)
President addresses HLCC and Nation on Strike
19/05/11

Today, the President chaired the 30th meeting of the High Level Consultative Council (HLCC). The biannual meetings of the HLCC bring together senior representatives of Government, the private sector and additional key stakeholders to discuss ways of ensuring that Botswana becomes a more productive and prosperous nation. The work of the HLCC is supported by regular meetings of economic sector sub-committees within
each Ministry.     

Besides addressing industry specific issues, today's meeting provided an opportunity for His Excellency to not only address the HLCC but also the nation, through those public and private press in attendance, on the ongoing strike action by a segment of public sector employees.

In his remarks President reminded the gathering that Government spending remains in deficit, with a projected revenue shortfall of P 7 billion in the current financial year. He further noted that public sector wages already cost Government P 12 billion annually, considerably more than the P 10 billion allocated for development this year. A 16% wage increase would thus add nearly P 2 billion more to the budget deficit, in the absence of deep cuts elsewhere.

The President cited continued volatility in the economy, due to internal and external developments, such as rising fuel prices and the earthquake in Japan, to explain why Government had made a conditional offer of a 5% increase, which would be implemented if Government stayed within its budget projections. He also confirmed that Government had also offered an unconditional 3% increase. 

His Excellency noted that unlike many other countries burdened with budget deficits Botswana had not cut public sector salaries or jobs. He expressed his regret that this fact was not appreciated by those on strike.

The President also reminded the meeting that Government was committed to spending large sums of money on critical infrastructure projects such as new power stations to ensure the country's economic future, while at the same time assisting Batswana through various social welfare and empowerment programmes such as Ipelegeng (50,000 monthly beneficiaries at an annual cost of P330 million), ISPAAD (currently 156,000 beneficiaries at P 200 million) and Poverty Eradication  (64,000
beneficiaries  at P 100 million).   

Summing up the challenge the President promised that he would not take any decision that would drive the country deeper in debt, noting that one cannot give what one does not have.

 

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