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Govt coffers running dry!

Oct. 24, 2019 2 min read

MASERU - Deputy Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Finance ’Mamakopoi Letsie made stunning revelations on Monday that a staggering M90 million in a contingency budget has already been disbursed without the parliament’s approval.

Mrs Letsie said they were already using money not approved by the parliament, and to make matters worse, more than 70 percent of the money was said to have been used to finance travel expenses for officials.And this is against the parliament recommendations that the executive should not use unbudgeted funds without parliament approval.

Letsie made these remarks before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday, adding that of the M100 million contingency budget, less than M10 million remained.Budget controller ’Maleshoane Lekomola said they had used about M90 million without the parliament’s approval and allocated it to the ministries that were in desperate need of money, though she could not justify.

“Most of the money was used on international trips,” she said. Lekomola said they always followed due procedure but sometimes political decisions were made adding that even on the contingency budget, political decisions were made.She said laws governing the contingency budget stated that funds should be used on important emergency and unforeseen circumstances.

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PAC chairman Selibe Mochoboroane said their investigations had uncovered that more than 70 percent of the funds were used for travelling.Mr Mochoboroane demanded answers from the ministry why they had decided to use the money budgeted for emergencies on trips.

He said as parliament they would make all those who used the funds to pay them back because there was no approval sought from the legislature first. He said they were aware that the government officials used trips to make funds for themselves through per diems and other allowances.“We see that thugs hide behind trips to squander the funds,” he said, adding this was outright theft of state funds.

Mr Mochoboroane said according to his investigations the money was not M90 million but over M200 million. He said trips were allocated M83 million and then the parliament slashed it to M12 million “but you decided to use contingency budget”. He said the country was facing a huge challenge of hunger and poor service delivery and yet it was easy for officials to use emergency funds for international trips.

“We cannot subsidise even a mere meal because contingency money is used on trips,” he said. PAC report shows that the practice of sending supplementary expenditure to parliament for authorisation had not been happening but there was a Cabinet approval to send all supplementary expenditure for regularisation from the year 2009 to 2016. The committee demanded that all supplementary appropriation proposals should be made before the actual fiscal end to avoid using parliament as rubber stamp to misused funds. The committee condemned this practice arguing it is likely to open more gaps for misappropriation of public funds.

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