iPads  for MPs

iPads for MPs

MASERU-The government has bought iPads for MPs at a time when it’s struggling to raise money to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
The move has triggered an uproar from some people who believe the government has its priorities skewed.

The MPs received their expensive gadgets on Tuesday.
Yesterday the government could not reveal how much the devices cost but based on the average retail price it could have spent more than a million maloti.

The specifications of the IPads have not been revealed.
If they got the 32G iPad which costs around M7 000 it means the government spent about M840 000 for the 120 MPs.
For the M10 000 iPad with a 64 G capacity the government could have spent M1 220 000.

If it’s the 128 GB iPad which costs M12 000 the government could have shelled out M1 440 000.
For the 256GB iPad that goes for M17 000 the government would have paid M2 040 000.

This is happening at a time when the government claims to be broke.
It’s battling to put together the M700 million it has budgeted to respond to the Covid-19.
The rescue package it has promised to the private sector is yet to come.
Informal traders who were promised financial help are yet to receive a cent.

The government is also yet to deliver a single food package to poor people affected by the lockdown.
In the meantime the national budget has been trimmed to cater for losses caused by the lockdown.

The government owes a staggering M1 billion to private companies, some of which are already going out of business due to cash-flow problems.
In recent months the government has been asking for donors’ help to fight the Covid-19.

For instance it has submitted a proposal seeking about M129 million from the World Bank.
The Popular Front for Democracy (PFD)’s deputy leader, Thabang Kholumo, said the money spent on iPads could have been used to fight the spread of the Covid-19.

“It is uncalled for that MPs are given the expensive iPads instead of buying PPEs for the fight against Covid-19,” said Kholumo, who is the MP for Qalo.
Kholumo also said the money could have been used on projects to fight poverty.

The MPs, Kholumo said, can afford their own iPads.
But the government believes this is money well-spent because they are moving towards an e-parliament.
Last Monday the Minister of Communications, Chief Thesele ’Maseribane, said the MPs will be trained on how to record information using the iPads.
“Under e-parliament, the aim is to shift the government to use the advanced technology,” Chief ’Maseribane said, adding that the devices will improve efficiency.

The minister said the Clerk of Parliament will soon publish a policy on how the gadgets will be used.
He said the use of iPads will reduce the use of paper.

Nkheli Liphoto

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