Inject M1 billion into social grants

Inject M1 billion into social grants

I had made a promise to take a break from writing in order to focus on the business of getting Christmas clothes and toys. But I had to sneak this piece in based on the heart-breaking poverty levels in our country.

I recently had a conversation with Ntate Robert Likhang on the poverty levels in Lesotho and he said the problem with the current situation is that it removes even the last dignity a person holds. It is the kind of poverty that degrades a person and no one deserves that. Ke bofuma bo bakang bokatana.

Covid-19 found Lesotho in a dire situation and compounded the poverty crisis even deeper. Some people argue that Lesotho had no business closing the economy when it went into a hard lockdown. They argue that it was a “me too” situation mainly to justify the need for a command centre. Keore, daylight robbery right in from of our eyes!

Hana how much were the four cylinders of gas purchased for? M250 000? And how much were those batteries for microphones? Something like four batteries for M19 000?
No man! If our politicians manage to get away with such petty crime then we should close this country and place a board at the border post written, “Lesotho (Pty) Ltd closed until further notice”.

That was theft in a time of crisis and the poor suffered a great deal as a result. But we can all agree that the hard lockdown deepened the poverty crisis. It resulted in joblessness and deepened the economic crisis. So, what’s the solution you may ask?
Before I answer, allow me to tell you a short story first. My good friend Bokang Kheekhe loves telling a story of one fellow that collapsed due to a binge-drinking episode, at the University of Natal, at the time. They were all out at a party and that gentleman decided to drink as if there was no tomorrow. You know how university students are.

So, Bokang and other fellows were obviously shocked by the situation at hand. “A lifeless body, what do we do next?” They rushed to the nearest hospital and the unconscious gentleman was immediately placed on a drip due to dehydration.
Now, here is the funny part. The water levels in the bag got drained in a flash. The funniest part is that Bokang says they saw the pinky finger of the lifeless body started twitching (moving fast) to show life and shew! It gave them a sigh of relief that he’s back to life.

This is exactly what needs to happen in our economy. We need to breath life into the desperate situation that our people face on a daily basis. We can’t have a situation where some families go to bed on empty stomachs or families have literally nothing. Not even Five Rands to buy airtime, Mocha-o-chele oa five.

I suggest that we inject M1 Billion in social grants for the next five years. M1 billion each year for the next five years to reignite the economy. In this case, I’m referring to a basic income social grant mainly for citizens aged 50 and upwards and maybe something for the kids.
These kids starve to death. Have you seen them selling sweets in town? Heart-breaking stuff I tell you. And we still have a politician that insists on being driven on the back seat of a Merc in this situation.

This social grant that I am referring to will cover a basic basket of goods. What does a basket of goods consist of?
It is a bundle of the most basic needs that each household needs to cover basic needs such as a bag of maize-meal, a bag of bread flour, cooking oil, a packet of sugar, a packet of salt, bath soap, toothpaste, washing powder and sanitary pads for the young girls.

Well, toilet paper can be excluded because I’m sure that our local newspapers come in handy to substitute toilet paper. That’s why I hate to see my face on the newspaper. Haai! It makes my imagination run wild. I ask myself a lot of what ifs. I’d rather prefer to have a picture of any our politicians to be used for “that” purpose. If you know what I mean.
We’d rather give M1 billion in the hands of our people than to lose it through corruption similar to the disgraced command centre. But how can we afford those social grants?

My answer is the Loti Development Fund. I still maintain my argument that it is of no use to keep assets that have no value in terms of jobs and tax revenue, in the name of national interest.
We’d rather sell assets to the private sector and to raise funds in order to invest in a new set of assets altogether. After raising funds from the sale of assets and entities such as Victoria Hotel, Basotho Canners, Loti Brick and Lesotho Post Bank and set aside a billion for social grants.

In any case, the M1 billion injected into the economy will gain value and multiply due a phenomenon in economics named a multiplier effect. This mean that if you inject M1 billion into the economy and in the hands of Basotho people, the money will exchange hands and gain value and multiply over six times. Some experts argue that it could even be by eight times.

Basically, this means that M1 billion could multiply to M6-8 billion maloti in value. So, the real question is an ability of the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) to collect the money in a form of VAT and to close the leakages in the economy.

The danger of not spending money into social grants is that we might have to deal with an even bigger problem trying to solve social challenges. It is a well-known fact that where poverty levels are high, social problems sky rocket and poverty usually impacts on the health bill because poor people fall sick and fight all the time. I’d also fight all the time.

We’d rather give money in the form of social grants to citizens aged 50 and above. We would rather allocate M550 to cover the basics but that will help to re-ignite the economy and give our citizens a sense of wellbeing and most importantly, to restore their dignity.

‘Mako Bohloa

Previous Army is ripe for reform
Next Makoenya!

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