February 1, 2018 / 4:43 PM / a year ago

Botswana's government spending to rise 13.6pct this year - budget

GABORONE, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Botswana will spend 63.3 billion pula ($6.6 billion) in the fiscal year beginning April 2018, a 13.5 percent rise in government expenditure from the previous year, a budget bill seen by Reuters on Thursday showed.

A total of 45 billion pula has been earmarked for recurrent expenditure with education, health, defence and security taking the lion’s share, according to the bill, which is due to be presented to parliament on Monday.

Around 30 percent of the budget, or 19.3 billion pula, will be allocated to capital expenditure, up from 16 percent in the 2017/18 fiscal year.

“It appears to be big jump in expenditure. The good thing is most of the increase looks to be allocated for development projects,” economist Keith Jefferis told Reuters.

The spending figure excludes statutory expenditure, such as public debt and pensions payments, which are approved under a separate law. Statutory expenditure stood at 6.98 billion pula in the 2017/18 financial year.

According to a budget planning paper released by the finance ministry last October, the deficit is seen widening to 8 billion pula in the 2018/2019 fiscal year leading to cumulative budget gap of 15 billion pula by 2020. ($1 = 9.5969 pulas) (Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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