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HRDC budget balloons

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The newly established Human Resource Development Council’s (HRDC) total budget for the financial year 2014/15 has reached P82.7million. Its revenue for the 2014/15 period reached P66.2million compared to P38.8million in the previous year, Business Trends can reveal.

According to its 2014/15 financial statements for the year ended 31st March 2015, the larger part of the money for this knowledge-based organisation went to personnel emoluments and related items at P29.6million, representing 36 percent of the total budget.

HRDC is a bigger entity in terms of mandate and staff establishment and therefore had to request for more financial resources from government and other stakeholders. In particular, the significant change in the resourcing of HRDC came from the 10 percent administration fee for human resource development fund that amounted to P29million in 2014/15 financial year.

The government grant also increased from P25million in the previous year to P29million. The total budget for the year was therefore P82.7million. The report indicates that, “as a result of the ongoing transaction, a total of P9.9million was provided as restricting costs. The second major expenditure was on consultancy services, which increased from P1million to P2.7million as well as research, and development costs which increased from P0.55million in the prior financial year to P1million in the year under review. These were small grants given to Education and Training Institutions to promote research at institutional level.”

HRDC is led by Patrick Molutsi who has been acting Chief Executive Officer since its establishment from the then Tertiary Education Council (TEC) in November 2013. Molutsi is confident that their portfolio of projects will deliver value and impact the nation’s advancement into the post 50 year  period positively.

He said the journey of this transition has been a long and tedious one; and just like all journeys, “unfortunately, there have been those who were lost on the way. We are earnestly excited. This has been the awarding transition stage from which we are well placed to implement the mandate of the HRDC and impact on the quality of life of every citizen of Botswana. We are currently scaling up our operations and implementing the National Human Resource Development Strategy.”

During the year under review, the HRDC had managed to establish and strengthen close working relationships with Statistics Botswana, Bank of Botswana, British Council, Ministries of Labour and Home Affairs; Trade and Industry; and Finance and Development Planning among others. These strategic partnerships have been critical in HRDC’s successful establishment of Sector Human Resource Development Committees and their work.

The HRDC in November 2015 launched new Board of Directors, and bid farewell to the interim Board members who started the Council in 2013. Dr Kegalale Gasennelwe who then handed to Batho Chris Molomo headed the interim.

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‘Manufacturing holds key to economic growth’

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Barclays bank’s economist Naledi Madala has urged the country to consider manufacturing, as a key tailwind to drive the economy and reduce inequality.

She was speaking at a gathering organised by the bank which focused on economic outlook for 2019. “We should not make a mistake of leapfrogging without manufacturing,” said Madala, lamenting that the country’s diversification remains a pipeline dream, as the diamond is still the economy’s mainstay. She bemoaned that mining activities in the country could not spring forward diversification, though non-mining GDP has been steady over the years.

“Extractive industries are not good stepping stones for diversification, the sector does not prepare us for the next step,” said Madala at the Barclays’ Economic Outlook Forum Review 2019. The economist further noted that government should confront head-on challenges of productivity and competitiveness to attract the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Though diversification efforts continue to hit a brick wall, Madala said the country should expect increased activities in the mining sector hinged to ramp up in coal production in the year ahead.

She also implored government to consider a welcoming attitude towards foreign investors and generous tax incentives to businesses that set up in the country. Madala is also upbeat that the use of public private partnership model could also help diversify the economy coupled with privitisation. “Privitisation will offer opportunities for growth, through the renewed optimism from government, as business confidence has improved,” said Madala.

She implored the government and the business community to access what is going to drive and hinder growth highlighting that key headwinds to growth are income inequality, diversification challenge and productivity, among others. “The pace of poverty reduction has slowed down, while income inequality goes up,” said Madala

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MINISTER BEWAILS BAD REPAYMENT BY YOUTH

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama has told parliament his ministry continues to face challenges on the repayment of Youth Development Fund (YDF) loans.

Recently presenting the budget to Parliament, Khama said this financial year the ministry has received a total of 2582 YDF applications and approved 983of them to the value of P98 million. He said the programme attracts a high level of interest from youth but the ministry is only limited to funding a maximum of 1200 youth projects annually due to budget limitations.

“However the greatest challenge for the Fund is the repayment of the loan component by the majority of the youth businesses. The youth have advanced number of challenges for this including high rentals for operating spaces, low market access owing to tight competition and limited production capacities,” said Tshekedi, adding that they continue to pursue beneficiaries to repay the loans.

Out of the 919 businesses funded 1058 jobs have been created. The minister highlighted that disbursements of funds will continue to be undertaken until the end of the financial year. “The YDF is currently under review in line with the pronouncement made by the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi in the State of the Nation Address, to improve beneficiaries through training, and encourage consortia and cooperatives,” said Tshekedi.

The ministry assists YDF beneficiaries in marketing their products and services through fairs and exhibitions. The ministry also runs entrepreneurship-training seminars for youth and in the past year 3692 young people were trained. Over 600 youth businesses attended fairs and exhibitions to market their products and services. Currently the ministry is collaborating with Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), First National Bank Botswana and Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) on training in entrepreneurship development and mentorship of YDF beneficiaries.

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