Ex-minister blows M383k on hotel bill

Ex-minister blows M383k on hotel bill

MASERU – FORMER Minister of Law, Mootsi Lehata, blew a staggering M383 304 on his meals and accommodation while staying at a local hotel last year.
The damning revelation is contained in an audit report released by the Auditor General Lucy Liphafa on Monday.
Lehata, the former MP for Makhaleng constituency, served as law minister in the last coalition government led by Pakalitha Mosisili.
He was appointed minister in February last year and served in government until June when Mosisili lost power.

Liphafa says contrary to regulations, Lehata was accommodated at the hotel from March 11, 2017 to June 1, 2017, a staggering 83 days.
She says the law stipulates that in the absence of a fully furnished government house, ministers, the Speaker of Parliament and President of the Senate are entitled to a tax-free housing allowance of M5 000.

“It is understandable that the minister can stay in a hotel for some few days while preparations are being made for a government house but there is no provision in the law that the minister can stay in a hotel,” the report reads.

The findings have revealed that Lehata withdrew a tax-free expense allowance of M5 000 per month while his meals and drinks were paid for by the government.
Liphafa said if the Members of Parliament Salaries (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations, 2016 were complied with in the absence of a fully furnished government house, the government would have paid M15 000 and saved M368 304 for that period of three months.

She said a tax-free expense allowance of M5 000 per month would have not been paid as long as the minister was staying in a hotel and the government was paying for his lodging and accommodation.

“It is evident that the law should be amended to cater for a short stay in a hotel, maybe for a period not exceeding 14 days, if the minister is unable to move into suitable accommodation upon appointment,” Liphafa says in her report.
Efforts to get comment from Lehata proved were not successful last night.

He was appointed minister in February last year and served in government until June when Mosisili lost power.
Liphafa says contrary to regulations, Lehata was accommodated at the hotel from March 11, 2017 to June 1, 2017, a staggering 83 days.
She says the law stipulates that in the absence of a fully furnished government house, ministers, the Speaker of Parliament and President of the Senate are entitled to a tax-free housing allowance of M5 000.

“It is understandable that the minister can stay in a hotel for some few days while preparations are being made for a government house but there is no provision in the law that the minister can stay in a hotel,” the report reads. The findings have revealed that Lehata withdrew a tax-free expense allowance of M5 000 per month while his meals and drinks were paid for by the government.
Liphafa said if the Members of Parliament Salaries (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations, 2016 were complied with in the absence of a fully furnished government house, the government would have paid M15 000 and saved M368 304 for that period of three months.

She said a tax-free expense allowance of M5 000 per month would have not been paid as long as the minister was staying in a hotel and the government was paying for his lodging and accommodation.

“It is evident that the law should be amended to cater for a short stay in a hotel, maybe for a period not exceeding 14 days, if the minister is unable to move into suitable accommodation upon appointment,” Liphafa says in her report. Lehata said the law stipulates that when one becomes a minister, the government has to provide for his accommodation.
He said this was not done.

He said he stayed in the hotel as part of his benefits governing ministers.
But Lehata said if the audit says he benefited more than he was supposed to he is willing to pay back the money.

Majara Molupe

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