09.02.2017-BONELA RESPONDS TO THE 2017 BUDGET SPEECH – Final
- The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA); a human rights organization, dedicated to promoting, protecting and fulfilling the right to health in Botswana; followed with keen interest the delivery of the 2017 Budget Speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Kenneth Mathambo.
- BONELA applauds the government of Botswana for prioritizing health as evidenced by an increased budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Health and Wellness which is the second largest share and constitutes 16.6% of the recurrent budgetary allocation, which is also above the Abuja Declaration commitment. This should ensure equitable access to health care services and good health outcomes for all.
- While the government has demonstrated a commitment to the betterment of health by increasing the budgetary allocation of the recurrent budget for health to “cater for provision of; drugs, dressings, vaccines, anti-retroviral therapy, replacement of obsolete medical equipment and to implement the Treat All Strategy for HIV/AIDS”; BONELA implores the Minister of Health and Wellness, to ensure that there is a significant allocation of the Ministerial budget towards Key Populations (KP) and high impact interventions for KP given the high rates of HIV prevalence among vulnerable and marginalized groups, particularly among sex workers and Men who have Sex with Men (MSM). BONELA reiterates that the dependence on external funding for KP programs in Botswana is not sustainable given the sharp decline in donor aid, hence, the need for domestic financing for KPs.
- Furthermore, BONELA implores the Ministry of Health and Wellness to champion legislative reform on KP to facilitate access to health services such as the ‘treat all’ strategy and show returns on investment.
- In addition, BONELA applauds government‘s increased investment in Social Development. Affirmative action to strengthen programs geared towards the upliftment of People Living with Disabilities is indeed plausible.
- However, BONELA believes that without a conducive legal environment to promote, protect and fulfill the rights of People Living with Disabilities, these aspirations will be futile. BONELA asserts that without a mandatory law that ensures the protection of rights for People Living with Disabilities, the proposed affirmative action will be subject to duty bearer’s discretion, thereby creating inequalities and abuse of power. We therefore strongly urge government to move swiftly in reviewing the National Policy on Disability so as to facilitate the enactment of a law that will allow People Living with Disability to effectively claim their rights.
- When addressing the fifth priority area of Consolidation of Good Governance and Strengthening of National Security, the Honourable Minister noted that government will foster “participatory democracy by encouraging dialogue among citizens, and promoting transparency and accountability in the operations of the public sector.” The Minister however neglected to clearly demonstrate how this will be effected without an accompanying budget allocation. BONELA therefore calls on the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security to factor in budget allocations to facilitate public engagement in order to promote democracy, transparency and accountability.
- Lastly, BONELA challenges the Botswana government to be responsive to labour issues and to address working conditions of workers including health care workers to facilitate effective delivery of the proposed NDP 11 mid-term priorities. While we acknowledge that the Minister made reference to the improvement of staff housing, there is need to address specific structural and welfare challenges relating to human resource capacity to deliver quality health services to all.
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