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MPs want answers on ESP, Constituency Fund

Publishing Date : 16 January, 2018


Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale and his counterpart at Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane will this coming week appear before the ruling party caucus to answer to a litany of concerns regarding projects under their ministries.

Worried by unfulfilled promises and secrecy surrounding the much hyped Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) and the recently introduced Constituency Fund, ruling party backbenchers want the two ministers to give report cards on the two programmes. The ESP is reported to have drained government coffers an astounding P1.6 billion from, while the constituency fund totalled P570 million with each constituency being entitled to P10 million. When ESP was launched in Sefhare-Ramokgonami constituency a number of constituencies were promised their share of the cake but most are yet to receive the goods.

Various legislators including Liakat Kablay and Ngaka Ngaka of Letlhakeng peripheral constituencies have enquired about the process of distributing developments equally albeit in vain. However, this coming week Molale is expected to give the report card of the programme. “Though I can’t vividly remember which projects were allocated to which area, to be honest the ESP has fared below average, look at my constituency there is nothing, but initially I was promised a junior school in Ngware,” observed the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chief Whip, Kablay.

“It milked government millions if not billions of pula and it’s only appropriate to demand to know to what extent the initiative has stimulated the economy. You will find that some constituencies were promised a number of projects but two years down the line, there is nothing, we expected around 500 houses in my constituency from the program, nothing!” said one MP.

With all these complaints, Molale will appear before his colleagues on Tuesday to explain what happened to the programme and possibly inform the legislators as to whether the programme will continue in the coming years or not.  “There is nothing to show our people at the constituencies, so he will present to us as to what’s next for those who were excluded from the development,” added another MP. The party chairman Mokgweetsi Masisi has reportedly long tasked the two Ministers to report back on the two government initiatives for the MPs’ appreciation.

Still at the gathering the MPs will want to know what could be delaying the distribution of the P10 million constituency funds.  “We are told the funds have been disbursed to the Ministry’s offices so we want to know what could be delaying the money to get to the district offices. There are reports that the money has been disbursed to the council so we want clarity. Remember, initially we suggested the money to be distributed via Presidential Affairs and Public Administration ministry but it failed though we knew it was going to be easy that way,” party chief whip Kablay said.

The MPs want to have control over usage of the money but were given an opaque response as to whether they will get their way or not. MPs are of the view that the current development regarding the disbursing of the money opened avenues for misuse and abuse.
The determined backbenchers reportedly told Tsogwane that they will fight for the proper channelling of the funds. Government introduced this developmental fund at constituency level in order to transform the economy and develop lives at constituency level.

The two schemes were to run parallel to the National Development Plan (NDP) 11 and the popular Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) and would not cause or interrupt any existing development programme. The government launched the Economic Stimulus Program (ESP) with the aim to boost the national economy.

“The ESP is a program that is meant to boost economic growth through increased government spending in identified sectors; diversify the economy and accelerate employment creation,” President Ian Khama was quoted as saying when launching the initiative in Machaneng village in eastern Botswana.

The Program was in response to the current unfavourable economic climate following the world economic recession of 2008/2009 which has resulted in job losses. "One of the major challenges in the economy is fall of commodity prices in the mining sector including diamonds," Khama had said at the launch.

"There is a need to diversify the economy even more so as to create sustainable jobs and to be able to cushion the economy against the international shocks of the mineral process," he said. The program, aimed at boosting the national economy through accelerated job creation and citizen empowerment using the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) and harnessing the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) program for citizens, has been given national attention since its introduction by President Khama last November.



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