Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Botswana faces legislative crisis following Cabinet budget goof

President Lt Gen Ian Khama and his Cabinet Ministers are feared to have plunged the country into a legislative crisis after making a one percent across the board reduction to all ministerial budgets for 2015/2016 financial year without consulting Parliament.

Sunday Standard investigations have turned up documents detailing how the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo and Cabinet went behind the back of the national assembly to change the 2015/2016 national budget after it had been approved by Parliament.

Investigations have unearthed a savingram addressed to the Ministry of local Government and Rural Development confirming a cabinet decision showing how Cabinet cut the budget without consulting parliament.

The savingram reads, “This serves to inform you that cabinet has made a one percent across-the-board reduction to all ministerial budgets for 2015/2016.

This was confirmed after presentation of the budget speech to the National assembly which gave our ministry (Ministry of Local Government) a reduced approved recurrent budget of P5, 2 billion.”

 The savingram continues to state that following the cabinet decision, the Ministry of Local Government had no option but to cascade the reduction to all its Departments and institutions.

The Savingram further reads, “You are requested to re-prioritise your budgets to fit within the new ceilings. Funds for additional nominated Councillors for affected councils have been included in the ceiling. Please re-submit revised budgets on identified votes reflecting only the summaries on or before Friday 20th February 2015.”

The Savingram was signed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government Mr Khumomatlhare.
Kenneth Matambo, Finance and Development Planning Minister, confirmed the reduction to this publication.
“Yes I can confirm that Cabinet took a decision to cut one percent across board from all Ministerial budgets for 2015/2016. We have realised that expenditure exceeds resources available hence the decision to cut the ministerial budgets with one percent,” said Matambo.

Pressed further to explain whether there was no need to consult Parliament about the reduction of the 2015/2016 ministerial budgets that was passed by Parliament in the first week of February Matambo said it was unnecessary.

“I do not see any need to do that, the figures that are in the budget that has been passed to Parliament are final,” he said.

Matambo could not explain why cabinet decided to temper with the budget that has been passed in Parliament.
The cut ranges from a minimum of P1.5 million or more to a maximum of P6 million or more depending on how much was allocated to different Ministries.

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and the Botswana Congress party has indicated that they will challenge the constitutionality of the Cabinet decision. The UDC even went as far as to indicate that if the issue is not resolved in parliament they may consider legal action.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper