Thursday, February 26, 2009

Speech by the Minister of Defence Jjustice and Security on behalf of the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration

source: Republic of Botswana (16/2/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 3 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"



1. Mr Chairman, allow me to present to this Honourable House the budget proposal for the Parliament of Botswana, Organisation - 0100, for the financial year 2009/2010. The total provision for which I seek approval is Ninety-Three Million, Eight Hundred and Four Thousand, Two Hundred and Thirty Pula (P 93 804 230) of which, Seventy-Seven Million, Five Hundred and Thirty Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty Pula (P77 536 730) is for the Recurrent Budget and Sixteen Million Two Hundred Sixty Seven Thousand, Five Hundred Pula (P16 267 500) is for the Development Budget. However, before I do so, I would like to appraise the House on the activities of Parliament for the financial year 2008/09.


2. Mr Chairman, the principal role of Parliament is to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Republic of Botswana. In the period under review, (February, July and November 2008 meetings) the National Assembly received thirty one (31) bills, passed thirty (30) and deferred one (1). This is a record achievement of 97% for which we can be proud. We live in a period of rapid changes and therefore timeous Law making is a goal we must continue to strive for. To do otherwise is to risk loss of opportunities and hamper social and economic development. It is therefore in our interest to continue to review processes including standing orders for value addition.

3. Parliament also undertook a number of activities which were geared towards ensuring accountability and transparency. These included financial scrutiny of public accounts, briefings and tours by Parliamentary Committees. There are noticeable improvements in committee work in general as evidenced by novel initiatives such as; the country-wide tour which was undertaken by the Assurances Committee to monitor and evaluate project implementation, and the consultative workshop which was held by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Subsequent to the PAC workshop, a standard reporting format is being developed to guide both the Committee and the Accounting Officers. In spite of these commendable efforts, our biggest challenge is the reform of the committee system. I am confident this will be achieved through the on - going exercise of restructuring parliamentary committees.

4. Mr Chairman, it is worth noting that the Joint Advisory Committee of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi and Botswana Council of Churches on Social Values extensively consulted Batswana during the months of July and August 2008. It is no doubt that this exercise enhanced the role of Parliament in promoting participatory democracy. Let me note here that the report has been presented to the President for consideration.

5. As we strive to improve the law making process, accountability and transparency, we are faced with a number of operational challenges some of which are due to resource constraints. In an effort to address these, Parliament continues to capacitate both the Legislators and Staff. A significant number of workshops were held for the Legislators and staff to improve levels of productivity. Three (3) Parliamentary Committees went for bench-marking in Zambia, Mauritius and the United Kingdom. Other notable efforts of enhancing participatory democracy and capacity building included participation in activities of the inter-Parliamentary Associations such as SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF), Commonwealth Parliamentary Organisation (CPA) and International Parliamentary Union (IPU). While these achievements are notable, there is need for Parliament to continuously review and embrace new methods of doing work in order to improve its overall effectiveness.

6. Mr Chairman, in our quest to promote participatory democracy and enhance public knowledge and understanding of the work and role of Parliament, the Hon. Speaker of the National Assembly undertook the first leg of a country wide tour which included holding Kgotla meetings and visiting constituency offices. This is indeed commendable as it constitutes a stride towards the attainment of the Vision 2016 Pillars of "An Open Democratic and Accountable Nation and An Educated and Informed Nation". It is my hope that the Hon Speaker will share his findings with this house at an appropriate time. In addition to this, Parliament has also participated in a number of shows and fairs which were aimed at "taking Parliament to the People".


7. Mr Chairman, as you may recall, this House raised a number of concerns during the 2008/09 Committee of Supply debates on the level of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) usage to improve parliamentary processes. In an effort towards creating an e- parliament, Parliament of Botswana has increased the staff complement of ICT professionals during the 2008/09 financial year. A project to modernise the IT architecture was also started and will continue during the next financial year. Through this, publishing of the proceedings of the two (2) chambers through the internet, subject to parliamentary reforms which would facilitate this initiative, would be made possible. It is also expected that the Parliament website will be launched during the current budget session. Furthermore, 71% of Constituency Offices are now connected to the internet and e-mail services.

8. Mr Chairman, in yet another effort to improve information management, parliament is in the process of relocating the research and library services to bigger and more equipped facilities at the former Ministry of Works and Transport buildings. The new services will be automated to improve information accessibility and dissemination. Efforts are being made to outsource the production of the Hansard and other House publications.

9. Mr Chairman, security in parliament is yet another challenge to us. Whilst we would like Parliament to be as accessible as possible to the public, it is our duty to ensure that Honourable Members operate under a secure environment. Mr Chairman, you will agree with me that given the current global security concerns, the level of security in parliament and its precincts is a source of grave concern. We are currently reviewing a number of options that will address these concerns.

10. Mr Chairman, as regards human capital, Parliament managed to reduce the vacancy rate from a peak of 5.1% to 2.8%. Nonetheless, Parliament is still in short supply of area specialists and this continues to hamper service delivery particularly in areas such as research, committees and translation. To address these challenges, Parliament administration is in the process of rationalising its operations through an Organisation and Methods (O&M) exercise.


11. Mr Chairman, I now wish to provide the details of the recurrent budget estimates for the year 2009/2010. In the interest of time, I will highlight only those votes in which there are substantial changes.

12. The proposed recurrent budget for Parliament for the year 2009/2010 is Seventy-Seven Million, Five Hundred and Thirty Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty Pula (P77 536 730). This represents an increase of Four Million, Five Hundred and Seventy Nine Thousand, Eight Hundred and Eighty Pula (P4 579 880) or 6.2% over the current year's budget of Seventy-Two Million, Nine Hundred and Fifty Six Thousand, Eight Hundred and Fifty Pula (P72 956 850).


13. Of the P77,536,730 requested, the National Assembly seeks the provision of Seventy Million, Eight Hundred and Seventy Six Thousand, Four Hundred and Thirty Pula (P70 876 430). This is an increase of Four Million, Seven Hundred and Eighty Eight Thousand, Nine Hundred and Fifty Pula (P4 788 950) or 7.2% over the current financial year's budget. The increase is mainly in the following items; salaries and allowances which increased by 23.4% due to the 15% salary adjustment, new and upgraded posts; general expenses and supplies which increased by 11% largely on account of loss of economies of scale on purchases previously made by the Department of Supply; as well as training which increased by 37.9% attributable to the emphasis put on capacity building by the National Assembly.


14. Mr. Chairman, Ntlo Ya Dikgosi requests a provision of Six Million, Six Hundred and Sixty Thousand, Three Hundred Pula (P6 660 300) representing a decrease of 3% from the previous year's budget of Six Million, Eight Hundred and Sixty Nine Thousand, Three Hundred and Seventy Pula (P6 869 370). The reduction is a result of the rationalisation of posts between Ntlo Ya Dikgosi and the National Assembly.

15. It is worth noting that a new item on Councils, Conferences and Exhibitions has been created for Ntlo Ya Dikgosi.


16. Mr. Chairman, the proposed budget for development for Parliament for the year 2009/2010 is Sixteen Million, Two Hundred Sixty Seven Thousand, and Five Hundred Pula (P16 267 500)

17. As a reminder Mr. Chairman, for the current financial year 2008/2009, Parliament was allocated the sum of Thirteen Million, Two Hundred and Seventy One Thousand, Three Hundred and Sixty Nine Pula (P13 271 369) for its development projects. Overall, Parliament did not do as well as it could have with respect to project implementation. The expenditure to date on the 2008/09 financial year development budget stands at Two Million, Five Hundred and Seventy Two Thousand, Eight Hundred and Twelve Pula (P2 572 812) which is 19.39%.

18. Mr. Speaker, the refurbishment of the old Chamber which includes improvement of acoustics was delayed by the absence of specialist expertise to do the preparatory work. In other cases, what originally appeared to be minor works turned out to be more involving on account of the state of the old buildings. With respect to the refurbishment of the old Ministry of Works and Transport building which was meant to augment Parliament office space, there has been little progress as Parliament assumed responsibility for the project following decentralisation from Ministry of Lands and Housing in October 2008. This delay has also affected the computerisation project. However, a number of projects have now passed their planning/pre-contract stages and will be going into construction hence the request for a higher budget for 2009/2010.

19. Mr. Chairman that concludes my budget proposals for the recurrent and development estimates for Parliament. I, therefore, request that the sum of Seventy-Seven Million, Five Hundred and Thirty Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty Pula (P77 536 730) for recurrent expenditure, and Sixteen Million, Two Hundred Sixty Seven Thousand, Five Hundred Pula (P16 267 500) for development expenditure be approved and stand part of the estimates for the financial year 2009/2010.

20. I move accordingly, thank you

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