Committee chops ministries budgets

Committee chops ministries budgets

MASERU – PARLIAMENT’S portfolio committee on economic cluster has recommended budget cuts amounting to M27.8 million from selected government ministries.
The committee chairman, the Mosalemane MP Tsoinyane Rapapa, made the recommendation on Tuesday.
Rapapa said the budget cuts should be reallocated to the National Assembly and the Ministry of Education.
He said M11 million should be reallocated to the National Assembly to “assist in the oversight function”.
He also said M12 million should be reallocated to the Ministry of Education “to address teachers’ grievances”.
“The committee recommends the approval of this budget only when the recommendations mentioned…above have been effected,” Rapapa said.

“It is hoped that the additional revenue measures and the proposed spending cut plans will bear positive results.”
He added: “The committee therefore urges the government to ensure that the proposed measures are implemented without delay.”
The ministries whose budgets have been cut are Development Planning, Public Works, Forestry, Small Businesses and Water.
Rapapa said the committee noted that “international travel costs are very high because of large delegations and the longer duration of trips”.

“It is further noted that most of these trips are not statutory,” he said.
Rapapa said the committee is worried that “short-term hire, international travel and communication have consumed a large percentage of the budget”.
“The government is therefore urged to reduce the spending on these items,” he said.
He also proposed that the financing of factory infrastructure in Ha-Belo, Butha-Buthe, and Ha-Tikoe in Maseru “should be treated with utmost urgency in the current year and an option of a supplementary budget could be considered”.

About the capital projects, Rapapa said the committee has noted that the implementation process of projects “is delayed by lengthy and cumbersome tender procedures”.
“All ministries must be allowed to source out their own expertise because the Building Design Services Department in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport lacks capacity and it takes too long to implement capital projects,” he said.

The committee urged the Ministry of Finance to release funds in time in order for ministries to implement their activities promptly and avoid under-expenditure.
“There should be no virements to fares international and subsistence international,” he said.
Rapapa said a number of ministries have raised concerns about the ceiling set by the Ministry of Finance and the cuts which are often made without consultation with the concerned ministries and departments.

“These cuts often affect critical and essential budget votes,” he said.
“For instance, parliament has not been allocated funds for committees,” he said, adding that in the previous budget, “parliamentary committees have not been able to carry out the required oversight work because of lack of funding”.
“For parliament to execute its constitutional mandate effectively, it requires resources to undertake oversight activities,” he said.

Staff Reporter


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