Committee wants MPs loan facility repealed

Committee wants MPs loan facility repealed

MASERU -THE days when MPs milked taxpayers by burdening the government with repayment of loans they would have taken from banks could be coming to an end if Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) gets its way.
The government has in recent years forked out tens of millions of maloti to service the loans of MPs, a situation that the PAC says is proving too costly for the taxpayer and should be reviewed.
The committee wants provisions of the law providing for statutory loans for MPs to be repealed.
The committee has recommended to Parliament that Finance Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro should bring a Bill repealing all sections relating to statutory loans within 30 days.
In a report tabled in Parliament last week, the Selibe Mochoboroane-led committee said by the end of the 2014/2015 financial year, the government paid a whopping M32 million to settle loans taken by MPs.

This amount was paid for MPs who borrowed loans from banks under the government’s credit guarantee arrangement provided for under the Members of Parliament Salaries (Amendment of Schedule) Regulation.
The law provides that an MP can apply for a loan of up to M500 000, which they should pay back in installments for five years – the expected lifespan of Parliament.
The government undertakes to pay the interest.

The PAC said following the dissolution of the eighth Parliament, which ran from 2012 to 2015, the MPs’ loans were fully paid for by the government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
When the country went for a snap election in 2015, the incoming government led by Pakalitha Mosisili undertook to pay the remaining balance of the MPs’ loans.
In 2017 when the nation went for another snap election half way through the life of Parliament, the current government led by Thabane decided to pay back loans on behalf of the MPs.
The government coughed up a staggering M76.6 million, according to the audit findings.
The issue of loans has been controversial and caused a public outcry since Mosisili paid back loans on behalf of MPs in 2015.
The opposition, then led by Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) party and the Basotho National Party (BNP), complained bitterly about the arrangement.
When Thabane – now in charge of government – acted in similar fashion in 2017, it was the turn of the current opposition led by Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC) to complain about the misuse of public funds.

Other groups have also weighed in.
Last year unemployed graduates complained after the government wrote-off millions owed by members of the 9th Parliament, whose term of office prematurely ended in June 2017.
They described the write-off as a naked scheme meant to legalise corruption.
In a petition handed to Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki, unemployed graduates demanded that the government should write off scholarship debts they owed the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) if it insisted on paying back loans on behalf of MPs.

Staff Reporter

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