Stop mourning, all we want is action, Dr Majoro

Stop mourning, all we want is action, Dr Majoro

John C Maxwell argued that “a budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” A few days ago we listened to our radios and watched our televisions as the Minister of Finance, Dr Majoro ,was telling our funds where to go. Unfortunately he directed most of our funds towards the payment of civil servants salaries. It was business as usual.

I can tell this 2019/20 budget was intended to impress me. Unfortunately I am not impressed at all Dr Majoro. Dr Majoro delivered his third budget speech as the Minister of Finance. As with his past two budgets, I had expectations, which unfortunately were not met. From my scorecard, Dr Majoro, scored 3 out of 10 in terms of enforcing, top amongst his priorities, austerity measures and improved revenue collection measures, etc.

The Financial Year 2018/19 was very difficult for both the government and the private sector. Nevertheless, the one key thing I had anticipated Dr Majoro would deliver is a budget that prioritises getting back onto the path of fiscal consolidation. I must say the FY2019/20 budget speech was a political rhetoric at its best. Additional fiscal stabilisation measures are not going to help this country. Dr Majoro’s track record on implementing austerity measures is terrible and shocking, but I still want to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The coalition government is playing to the gallery by proposing to reduce the ministers gross salary by five percent and putting a cap of M5 000 on the monthly phone bill. I want to state that this effort is not enough. In fact it is very insignificant in the larger scheme of things. What is Dr Majoro saying about the high wage bill, three ministers in one ministry, two PSs in one ministry and a huge cabinet?

I want to remind Dr Majoro that it takes bold leadership, political will and tremendous courage to address the high wage bill. The issue of threatening MPs by proposing the elimination of the interest benefit on MPs loans and the possibility of write-off of the loans following a mid-term election is a very cheap way of doing things. Though I must say I welcome the idea, I admit the timing is wrong.

l Small Businesses Fund: Despite the budget constraints I believe that there is dire need of a fund for deserving small businesses. There is a strong argument for the setting aside of these funds to support small businesses that could otherwise close down in the difficult year to come.

I had hoped that would be covered but unfortunately, it has been business as usual.
Wool & Mohair policy: I looked forward to a speech whereby Dr Majoro was going to come down hard on the recently passed legislation prohibiting wool and mohair farmers to freely trade with broker(s) of their choice instead of being forced to sell through one Chinese novice in the wool and mohair industry.

Despite being the only business which has been fully in the hands of indigenous Basotho, pumping at around M400k per annum to the poorest of the poor, Dr Majoro has been radio silent on the effects of this legislation to our current account. I had hoped that Dr Majoro would advise the coalition government to abandon the wool and mohair regulations but unfortunately, farmers will continue to suffer.

l Mining: I had hoped that Dr Majoro would highlight the importance of an accelerated policy change on the mining industry. Top amongst what needs to change is participation of MSMEs in the diamond mining supply value chain. Dr Majoro needs to walk the talk. As he has done in his past budgets, his emphasis was on the role of MSMEs, their importance as key drivers in our economy, in terms of job creation and contribution towards Lesotho’s GDP. But talk is cheap.

l Outsourcing Lesotho’s Economy to China: The scourge of Chinese-owned businesses, offering goods and services to the government of Lesotho has stuck out like a sore thumb and I had hoped Dr Majoro would direct ministries to procure all goods and services from Basotho-owned businesses but unfortunately he didn’t. This would create the needed jobs Dr Majoro spoke about in his speech.

We are aware that this might be an uphill battle for the honourable minister, as the two major road constructions have been awarded to Chinese outfits, to the detriment of Basotho owned businesses on his approval. The M1.6 billion Mpiti-Sehlabathebe road and M800 million Marakabei-Monontša road.

l Education and Training: Minister Majoro is yet again faced with a problem he postponed two budgets ago. Teachers have been on a three week old industrial action and the consequences of not resolving this impasse timeously will drive our economy together with this government to the ground.

Concerted efforts should be reflected in this year’s financial allocations, which demonstrate that the government genuinely wants to address the teachers’ concerns. I am glad the coalition government committed funds in solving some of the teachers’ concerns. Anything short of this would have justified the continued strike by the teachers, which I fully support!

l Police & public safety: I welcomed the announcement to freeze all government hiring and I hope and pray it includes state disciplined forces. As recent history will show, police brutality is at the highest from 2017 to date and it’s time Dr Majoro, reallocates budget for an improved curricula at Police Training College. I strongly recommend freezing of police recruitment this financial year and budget reallocated to improving the curricula currently in use at the Police Training College.

My position is that we continue to recruit and train officers on the irrelevant and rudimentary curriculum which is contributing to the record police brutality and deaths recorded since this regime assumed office.

I had hoped that he would address the scourge and infestation of Chinese in our country. This issue of outsourcing our economy to the Chinese needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
1. Red meat industry, monopoly given to the Chinese
2. Wool & Mohair, Chinese!
3. Government road construction tenders, two major roads in this financial year, fixing of main north one from Maseru to Botha Bothe, Chinese.
Dr. Majoro needed to deal decisively with this Chinese infestation. It can’t be business as usual when our people are languishing in the abyss of poverty!

Dr Majoro as you may be aware, there are tens of thousands of men and women who have listened with hope on the three budgets you presented and they want action and less talk. Please spare us the usual lamentation of declining SACU revenues and austerity measures. I have heard that before. We need implementation.

By; Ramahooana matlosa

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