Keorapetse warns women
Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse has cautioned women to manage their expectations on the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Peggy Serame because she does not have an average woman’s interest at heart.
When debating the budget speech this week, Keorapetse said that he was an optimist, but sceptical that women’s lives will change for the better under Serame. “Serame is not new in government, she has been a Permanent Secretary at Trade Ministry and she has also been a Minister there. Personally I don’t know any of her initiatives which have helped women when she led Trade Ministry as well as Permanent Secretary or political head.”
Keorapetse described Peggy’s first budget speech as devoid of feminine touch as it lacked that ethic of care.
“For instance, there was no announcement of abolishment of pink tax; sanitary pads, menstrual cups, tampons and related items remains taxable items under her, ” said Keorapetse who went on to note that instead Serame budgeted for free distribution of condoms mainly for men whilst she failed to budget for free distribution of sanitary pads for women.
“We haven’t heard ground breaking announcements on women or girls empowerment policies. This is not shocking; we believe she has a template and parameters set by her government within which to operate,” said the MP
He further noted that the Minister serves the President, the ruling party and government. “Her rigidity during the debates on the Financial Intelligence Bill was telling on what we would be dealing with,” he noted.
However, Keorapetse said that contemporary economic challenges of Botswana serve as a clear testimony that this government has failed to recognize that necessary conditions for sustainable socio-economic development that would create jobs, alleviate poverty, narrow inequalities and provide opportunities for Batswana are increased economic efficiency; expansion of national economic capacity; modern technological advance; economic and industrial diversification and adaptability to shocks.
“This government has built an economy that’s fragile and vulnerable to external shocks. For over 50 years, it’s been dependent on minerals, especially diamonds and SACU receipts,” he quipped.
He said that as the country emerges from COVID, there are no adequate expansionary fiscal policy measures and the government has failed to put in place counter cyclical fiscal policy measure by avoiding taxes and increasing spending.
Instead the government continues to take away from the poor and middle class through all manner of hidden taxes in the form of levies and high services fees and leave out big corporations unscathed.
“Big corporations, many of which avoid paying tax, are charged 22% corporate income tax, we have suggested 30% because they can afford. Throughout the 2022 budget debates, we were unendingly asked to ululate and praise the government for providing enough vaccine for Batswana.”
He said that the praise and worship team has done a good job in that regard and people won’t belabour the point. “However, we will never forget that the COVID-19 vaccines arrived late and that thousands of people lost their lives because they were not vaccinated on time, lacked oxygen and bed spaces in hospitals because of the clumsy preparations for COVID-19.”
He added that the plundering of the fiscus under the guise of COVID-19 management, the corruption, mismanagement and maladministration are somewhat documented by the Auditor General and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime.