Monday, June 24, 2024

2023/24 Budget: which ministries are spending less? Don’t guess, take a look

Preliminary figures shared by the Ministry of Finance suggest that the trend of under-spending by different government ministries and agencies could still be on fashion. The official figures published by the ministry which houses the country’s treasury shows that in the first three months of the current financial year (2023/24) atleast eight government agencies were unable to incur expenditure of more than one percent of their respective development budget allocations.

The Finance Ministry says the failure of such agencies which include ministries of Entrepreneurship (0.89%), Youth Gender, Sports and Culture (0.4%), Justice (0%), Trade and Industry (0%) as well as the Ombudsman (0.64%), Industrial Court (0.4%) and the Ethics and Integrity Directorate (0%) was due to the fact that their projects are still at preparatory stages of implementation.

In February, Finance Minister Peggy Serame proposed P21 billion as development budget for the year 2023/2024 which was an increase of 27.88 percent over the 2022/2023 budget. She noted that the Government will, through the proposed budget, invest in economic and social infrastructure necessary to support economic activities in order to stay on track to achieving high-income status by 2036.

From the budget, the largest share went to the Ministry of Lands and Water Affairs amounting to six billion and seventy million Pula, or 28.89 percent. Serame said at the time that the funds will be for the implementation of major water projects including the North South Carrier 2.2 project which consists of a potable water pipeline from Palapye through to Mmamashia, with associated water works, to transfer water from the north to supply the densely populated southern part of the country.

At a recent launch of the 2024/25 budget circle, Serame shared that the expenditure of the Land and Water Ministry was at 24 percent during the first quarter of the current financial year. This means that while it has been allocated the biggest cut of the cake, the ministry is not amongst those that have, to date, recorded expenditure of more than 40 percent. The data shared by Serame shows that only the Local government, which in February was allocated the third largest share of the proposed Development Budget at two billion, three hundred and forty million Pula. They money is to be channeled towards the implementation of Social Protection Programmes including the revamped Ipelegeng and Remote Area Development.

“The bulk of expenditure was incurred by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development at 40.61% due to disbursements of funds to Ipelegeng and Constituency Community Projects,” said Serame recently as she gave an update on government expenditure during the first three months of the current financial year.

Serame shared that two other ministries whose spending has so far surpassed 20 percent were that of minerals and energy (38.5%) and Agriculture (27.5%).

The Attorney General (11.83%), Defence and Security (7.3%), Health (5.6%), Communications (5.08%), Transport and Public Works (4.31%), Education (2.46%), Finance (2%), IEC, (1.93%), Environment and Tourism (1.66%), Labour and Home Affairs (1.4%) and Parliament (1.01%) have so far registered expenditure between one and 20 percent of their allocated developmental budgets.

The preliminary expenditure figures come at a time when the ministry of finance had said that it will upgrade the Development Project Monitoring System (DPMS) for better tracking and monitoring  of physical and financial performance of government projects.

In February Serame said that there is a major challenge in project implementation, despite the fact that the development budget is allocated to all the ministries every financial year. She said for the 2022/23 financial year, only 65.35 percent had been spent by January 2023. The figures represented P10, 735 billion out of the allocated P16 billion.

“This worries us because it points to a number of challenges relating to project implementation. These include premature inclusion of projects in the annual budget with inadequate appraisal and prioritisation,” Serame said at the time.

She also said inaccurate costing and insufficient monitoring leads to time and cost overruns. In Mochudi, Serame said that there is a plan to adopt a new procurement model of development Manager which will assist in improving the delivery of infrastructure projects.

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