Launched in February 2016 by President Ian Khama, the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) was hailed as a programme that was meant to boost economic growth through increased government spending in identified sectors, diversify the economy and accelerate employment creation.
An estimated P2.2 billion was projected to be spent on the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) during the 2016/17 financial year. Government is however being accused of misusing ESP funds with allegations that costs for projects are being inflated and awarded to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) sympathizers with expectations they will donate the money to the party. The Botswana Gazette took a cursory look at some of the ESP projects that have been awarded at astronomically high costs vis-à-vis their scope of work.
In March this year, the Department of Roads awarded the tender for the emergency culvert maintenance of Tonkana River crossing along Senyawe village in the North East district at a cost of P5, 206 300.68. The same department also awarded a tender for culvert maintenance of Sekonjwe River crossing along Themashanga village at a cost of P6, 004 624.92. Still in the North East District, a company was awarded a P400 million tender for the construction of a 39-kilometre road between Tshesebe and Masunga.
ESP was introduced to target the construction, the manufacturing, tourism and the agricultural sectors. ESP was to also target infrastructure development through construction and maintenance of government facilities and the re-skilling of youth. Khama also said the Government Implementation Coordination Office (GICO) was being strengthened to oversee the implementation of all government projects, monitor and to keep records of their progress while the National Strategy Office will focus on the successful delivery, strategic oversight and support to ensure that the goals of the ESP are achieved.
The State-owned media (BTV and Daily News) always show residents ululating at ceremonies that mark the handover of ESP projects but what is not clear is whether these residents appreciate the cost of these projects and whether they offer value for money.