Thabane’s office overspent budget

Thabane’s office overspent budget

MASERU – THE Acting Auditor General Monica Besetsa has accused former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s office of overspending their budgets by five percent.
“This is a pure crime that has been committed. The ministries are not allowed to exceed their budget,” Besetsa said.
The audit report covered the period between April 1, 2019 and March 31 last year.
She was speaking at a press conference on Tuesday.

Besetsa said it was not just the office of the Prime Minister that violated the regulations. Other ministries such as that of Public Works and Tourism also went beyond their budgets.
“Public Works exceeded (by) 15 percent while Tourism exceeded (by) six percent,” she said.
She said under these circumstances the constitution is binding that a statement of access should be done and taken to the parliament so that it is included in the Supplementary Act.

“But that was never done, the funds need to be accounted for,” she said.
Meanwhile, the audit noted that the Chief Technical Officer and the Equipment Specialist in the Ministry of Health absented themselves from official duties for a period of 24 months.
During the period of unauthorised absenteeism they continued to draw salaries totalling M849 888, Besetsa said.

She said the Chief Technical Officer proceeded on early retirement in June 2017 and at that time an amount of M345 384 that was paid to him irregularly had not been recovered even from his terminal benefits.
In August 2018, the Principal Secretary for Health informed the Principal Secretary for Finance of the situation and requested that an amount of M5 000 should be deducted monthly from the Chief Technical Officer’s pension until the amount of M345 384 has been recovered.
However, the audit established that in August 2020, the monthly recoveries had not yet started.

The total amount paid to the Equipment Specialist was M504 504. The officer then resigned from the public service on September 1, 2018.
The amount was also not recovered from his terminal funds.
“I have not seen a Loss Report for the amount of M849 888 paid for wasteful expenditure,” Besetsa said.
“Furthermore, I have noted the effort taken by the Principal Secretary for Health in February 2017 to have written to them to show cause why disciplinary action could not be taken against them,” she said.

She said it is important to note that before any officer is granted terminal benefits, his file should start at the parent ministry for circulation within relevant ministries or departments for outstanding amounts to be recovered.
“It raises a serious concern why the ministry failed to indicate that the officers owed government so that recoveries could be made from their terminal benefits.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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