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Suppliers’ payments could be delayed by false claims

The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Motena Tšolo

July 3, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

MASERU - The Ministry of Finance has started processing delayed payments to hundreds of suppliers, but there is a worrying factor where others are trying to manipulate the system and claim payments they are not entitled to, officials have revealed.

Such behavior is further delaying the payment process as the ministry is now forced to undertake a reconciliation process to ensure that no one is paid more than once or unduly. “We have started paying suppliers. There are so many invoices that have not yet been paid, so we are paying them gradually to allow other government activities to also keep going,” said the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Motena Tšolo told Metro on Monday.

Local suppliers in different sectors have been complaining of non-payment for a very long time while government did not have enough in the coffers to settle these payments.In October last year the former Minister of Finance and current Prime Minister, Dr Moeketsi Majoro said government owed suppliers an estimated amount of M350 million, adding they might have to borrow elsewhere to be in a position to pay or wait for a better financial position.

At the time Majoro said government needed an estimated M700 million to pay its suppliers, even those that did not appear on their database and not accounted for. The ministry, however, stated on Monday that some of these arrears dates back to 2014 but others have since been paid. Tšolo raised concern about some suppliers who try to take advantage of the system and make false claims.

“There are people who arecausing us a lot of confusion in that they want to claim payments while they have already been paid a long time ago. That is causing us a lot of confusion because now we are forced to reconcile and make sure that nobody is paid more than once,” Tšolo also said.

This type of suppliers gets exposed when their documents get to the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) showing that they have already been paid.The delay in payment has hit hard on a number of suppliers in that most of them are in deep debt and struggle to pay back loans they acquired to render services to government.

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Most of them have also lost credibility in the market and could not retain some of the productive employees due to lack of finances. It remains to be seen if they will ever recover. One of such suppliers who spoke to Metro on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal took a shot at government, saying its conduct destroys their businesses. The director of the company said around March, they made repairs on printers belonging to one of the ministries.

“The accounts department in that ministry claims to have processed our payment a long time ago but the funds have still not reflected in our bank account. People who are responsible suggest that the problem should be with either the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) or the Treasury Department.

“This has caused a huge inconvenience on our part because as business people who live from hand to mouth, without those funds, we are unable to finance other projects that we already have,” the man also said. The government has been hanging on a fiscal cliff for a long time now, with the continuous decline in Southern African Customs Union (SACU) revenues and high wage bill posing even more threat.

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