Monday, March 30, 2020

BPF MP bemoans lack of tools to measure national budget efficiency

Monitoring the national budget is important to ensure that the financial, operational and capital plans that are developed and approved for implementation as part of the budget processes are being implemented, a member of Parliament for Serowe North – Baratiwa Mathoothe has said.

Debating the national 2020/21 budget in Parliament this week, Mathoothe – who is a member of the new opposition party – Botswana Patriotic Front said that the reported increase in Government supplementary budget is as a result of a lack of no monitoring tool to ensure ministries, department and state owned enterprises spend according to their organisational needs.

Mathoothe is in agreement with economic pundits who maintain that regular, comprehensive monitoring of the budget allows a government to evaluate service level provision, ensure any new initiatives are making expected progress towards goals/expectations, learn more about trends and other deviations that may impact future operations, and finally demonstrate transparency by sharing findings from this regular monitoring.

“The government just allocates funds to ministries, government policies and there is no thorough spot check of how funds are used except when the financial year climax approaches and reports are submitted. This is why I feel efficient spending should be taken into consideration, to ensure we monitor how our finances are being spent.”, Mathoothe said.

To elaborate further on his worries, Mathoothe gave an example of Botswana Development Corporation and Botswana Meat Commission which he said are part of “wasted opportunities”. He said BDC was allocated for the development of a glass factory in Palapye and due to lack of a monitoring tool among other things led to the project not bearing fruit.

“You will notice these are finances that have been put there with no form of monitoring tool. These are issues that the minister has to take into consideration, as the BDC was once given finances and those finances were not used as expected. One may wonder what is happening to those building facilities in Palapye. As of today, they are just there dilapidating,” Mathoothe said.

Mathoothe said another challenge which affects government allocated budgets is the act of overcharging government for services, by service providers. “You will find that government is always paying more for services provided such as a small culvert maintenance costing a million-pula, road construction price imbalance in different areas for the same kilometre distances. This is usually what causes situations where unplanned supplementary budgets proposed because a lot of spending is done on incorrect pricing measures,” Mathoothe said.

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