Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has given the greenlight for the payment of the 6% salary increment amounting to M9million to the police.
Thabane made the unexpected pronouncement during a press briefing that was held yesterday at the Ministry of Communications, showing that the said amount was budgeted to cover payments to be made in the current quarter.
He said it was challenging for the government to settle all its arrears at once due to inflation and other contributing economic factors, adding that such payments could only be made quarterly.
He said in March, a sum of 12 million was paid out leaving behind a balance of M59 million.
“But when these arrears were being paid during that term some errors occurred whereby other officers were mistakenly remunerated. We are in the process of looking into correcting that fault and to further pay out M9 million to cover for outstanding arrears for this quarter. If all the money was released at the same time, then police officers wouldn’t be receiving their salaries as we speak,” he noted.
Since 2015 police officers through the Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) have been fighting for salary adjustments but were snubbed by successive governments until in March this year, when the former police minister ’Mampho Mokhele asked Parliament to allocate over M710.4 million to her ministry as a recurrent budget.
Mrs Mokhele argued that part of the money would go towards adjusting the salaries of police officers by six percent.
Mrs Mokhele’s decision was according to Leposa’s deputy secretary general Inspector Teboho Molumo in compliance with an out of court settlement in a case in which LEPOSA had sued the government in 2016.
The court order said the money would come with arrears and would be disbursed in instalments. Insp Molumo showed the first payments in certain ranks started on March 20.
Dr Thabane’s statement was aimed at convincing LEPOSA that the government was doing everything in its power to address the matter.
About a month ago, LEPOSA unsuccessfully applied for permission to petition Dr Thabane over the salary raise which they claimed some police officers did not obtain.
Thabane’s lengthily speech also touched on the immediate need for a programme to respond to the high unemployment rate of graduates and illiterate youth.
The government’s resolution was that 5 000 jobs would be created for youths in batches, taking in 65 tertiary level graduates in each constituency for a period of six months.
As for non-graduates or youth of informal education, a programme in community projects has been drafted to accommodate employment of 3 500 people.
Thabane further indicated that the government has until now secured 77 investors willing to create jobs for 35 000 nationals with a total budget of M25 billion.
Since the law legalising the production of marijuana was enacted, over 50 licenses have been issued whereby each licensee is expected to create 3 000 jobs for Basotho. On average, it was projected that 30 000 jobs would have been created by 2022.
Dr Thabane ended his conference by giving wool and mohair growers an open trade, saying they were now free to sell their products ‘everywhere’ locally and abroad.
The free pass stays for three months when the government would be restructuring the industry to permanently trade locally.
Dr Thabane, who is still adamant that wool and mohair must be restricted to trade locally, showed that the move could influence the establishment of factories where clothes would be produced with such items.