M536 000 for Maesaiah’s trip

M536 000 for Maesaiah’s trip

MASERU – EACH of the eight government officials who accompanied First Lady Maesaiah Thabane on a medical trip to Johannesburg received a staggering M67 000 in per diems.
The entourage had four bodyguards, two chauffeurs and a personal assistant.
Tiisetso Rabolinyane, the State House’s director, was also part of the team although her role on the mission is not clear.

Documents seen by thepost show that each member of the entourage received M66 727 in per diems for the 15 days they spent with the First Lady in South Africa.
The documents show that each was receiving M4 448 per day. The daily rate was US$305 which was converted at a rate of M14.5852.
The team left on May 29 and will return on June 12.

The payments were approved on May 28, according to the documents.
In total the government has paid M533 816 in per diems to the entourage.

Rabolinyane however received an additional M60 000 which was approved as accountable imprest. One of the chauffeurs received M10 000 in accountable imprest for fuel and toll fees.
The huge size of the entourage has triggered public outrage, with some questioning why there are four bodyguards while others are querying the inclusion of the State House director.
The government has said it is in a financial squeeze because of sliding revenues and increasing costs.
So precarious is the financial situation that the government did not increase its employees’ salaries this year.

The government is also struggling to pay suppliers.
Finance Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro declined to comment, saying he had already spoken about the issue.
“I have spoken earlier and I won’t talk now,” Dr Majoro said.

The First Lady’s spokesman, Silas Monyatsi, told thepost that her security arrangements are authorised by the police management.
He said the First Lady has always maintained her usual security team whenever she travels by road.

“This is not the first time it happens and not a second time or a third time it is the usual procedure,” Monyatsi said.
The Principal Secretary for Cabinet Administration, ’Mataeli Sekhantšo, referred thepost to the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s spokesman Thabo Thakalekola.

Thakalekoala said the “the Benefits of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Gazette of 2016” was clear on the matter.
The entourage is fine according to that Gazette, Thakalekola said.

Dr Majoro, in his budget speech, vowed to put a lid on the skyrocketing cost of state-sponsored international travel.
He said the ministers should cut the number of entourage  to five and cut their delegations.

The minister also proposed to reduce the per diem rate and the use foreign missions to attend meetings.
The import of his message was that the government can longer afford the international travels.

Majara Molupe

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