Saturday, October 16, 2021

Bots 50 still counting costs

Expenses for Bots50 are expected to soar with reports that the Ministry of Youth Development, Sports and Culture blew P300 000 on umbrellas alone. 

Bots50 was an organising committee that was tasked with preparations for Botswana’s golden jubilee independence celebrations which were held last year.

The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Kago Ramokate was unable to confirm or deny that they had spent P300 000 on umbrellas.

Answering questions from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member, Dithapelo Keorapetse, who had wanted him to confirm or deny the claim, Ramokate confirmed that they spent more than P113 million on Bots50. Initially the budget for Bots50 was P100 million.

Ramokate said the P113 million amount is likely to soar because there a number of pending disputes that they have to settle with some of their suppliers.

“The ones that we are disputing are not included in the P130 million that has already been spent for Bots50,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary was also not in a position to provide a breakdown of their expenses for Bots50 to PAC, prompting Keorapetse to ask, “Are you hiding it from us, Accounting Officer.” 

Ramokate said he didn’t expect that he would be asked about a report for the breakdown of items for Bots50 expenses.

“I also did not expect my team to have it breakdown of expenses,” he said.

Keorapetse suggested that the document detailing the breakdown of expenditure for Bots50 be availed to the secretary of PAC. But another PAC member, Reggie Reatile recommended that the matter should come back before PAC in the form of re-submission by the ministry.

Later on during Roommate’s submission, Reatile decided to return to the Bots50 expenditure.

“The P113 million, did it also cover issues such as branding and closing ceremony,” he asked. But PAC Chairperson, Abraham Kesupule reminded him that he had recommended that the matter should be discussed during the Ministry’s re-submission. Reatile retorted that “they had already planned this before they came here; they knew they didn’t want to come and discuss it. Anyway let’s leave it that way.”

The committee also heard that the Ministry spent P10 000 on an event dubbed ‘Tlatsa Lebala’ that was hosted by local artist Kast- real name Tshepiso Molapisi. Ramokate said the money made contributions at the request of the artist. Keorapetse suggested that they had set a precedence to which Ramokate said they had in the past assisted artists in different ways.

Another PAC member Ndaba Gaolathe asked Ramokate to state the success rate of businesses owned by youth.

He also suggested that Ramokate should submit a report detailing performance and success rate of youth businesses, jobs created for the youth by the Ministry.  Ramokate revealed that businesses owned by youth and benefited from government funding owed the government P430 million. 

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