How Lesotho lost  M391m

How Lesotho lost M391m

Business Reporter

MASERU – THE Ministry of Finance’s bungling is to blame for Lesotho’s failure to get M391 million in aid from the European Union.
In March this year the EU refused to release the 26.85 million euros (M391 million) it had allocated to Lesotho for budgetary support.
This was after the Ministry of Finance repeatedly failed to comply with the conditions set in an agreement between the EU and the government of Lesotho.
EU ambassador to Lesotho, Dr Michael Doyle, says the decision to withdraw the budgetary support to Lesotho was not an easy one but had to be taken in line with the bloc’s conditions for aid.

Dr Doyle was speaking at a media briefing with journalists and editors at his residence in Maseru on Tuesday.
He said as early as May 2015 the EU had expressed concerns about the need for Lesotho to undertake comprehensive Public Finance Management reforms.
But despite the extra time that was given to “fix the issues”, not sufficient progress was made, hence the decision by the EU to withhold budgetary support for Lesotho in March this year.

“The progress was not adequate. Although extra time was given no sufficient progress was made. This was not a quick decision,” he said.
Dr Doyle said although the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) was a “nice document, we don’t see it being implemented”.
He said much still needs to be done to “get rid of ghost workers (in the civil service) and ghost pensioners”.

Dr Doyle however said the EU remains committed to providing technical support to improve Lesotho’s capacity to implement comprehensive Public Finance Management reforms.
He said the reforms include “support for a Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability assessment (PEFA) which will improve the citizens’ ability to assess how their common resources are being used for the betterment of all Basotho”.

The ambassador said the decision to withhold budgetary support was taken after concluding that “insufficient progress has been made in the implementation of the agreed policy reforms, especially in the area of Public Financial Management”.

He said the evaluation document that had been submitted by the government had fallen short of the EU’s expectations.
The ambassador told journalists that the withdrawal of budgetary support will however not affect the water policy which he said had been complied with.
He said the political climate in Lesotho might have impeded the development agenda with most of the focus being on politics.
Speaking on the Amnesty Bill 2016 that is before Parliament, Dr Doyle said the EU is strongly opposed to the Bill in its current form as it “will foster impunity”.
The Amnesty Bill 2016 seeks to block the criminal investigation and prosecution of soldiers, police, prison warders, secret security agents and civilians who could have committed crimes between January 2007 and December 2015.
The Bill will also seek to protect from criminal prosecution and civil litigation all those who could have committed crimes “in the execution or purported execution of their duties in pursuance of any political objective”.

Dr Doyle said the EU supports the SADC position that called for the prosecution of soldiers accused of crimes and wants to the “military detainees being subjected to a credible process to clear them”.
He said the EU does not see any equivalence between soldiers who are accused of crimes dating back to 2007 and those detained at the Maseru Maximum Prison who are accused of mutiny.

The ambassador any “blanket amnesty” will foster impunity and the “EU is strongly opposed to that”.

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