Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Cabinet in bid to save face over budget blunder

Cabinet is reportedly working around clock to convince Parliament that the 1 percent across-the-board reduction of allocations to all ministries was made before the budget was presented and approved.

It is understood that the plan is aimed at parrying impending legal action that is being mooted by the opposition.
Sources within the government enclave said this week that cabinet is doing everything in its power to ensure that the matter is not brought before court to avoid embarrassment. Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, Phenyo Butale said he will face the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo on Tuesday, seeking answers over a 1 percent across-the-board reduction of all ministerial budgets for the 2015/2016 financial year.

Butale wants the Minister of Finance to brief parliament on reports about the cabinet decision, state when the decision was arrived at and whether it was before or after presentation of the budget to parliament. The MP further wants the Minister to explain whether he did not see it fit to brief parliament on the developments and tabulate how much the 1 percent constitutes.

Butale and the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) were expected to pose the question on Monday. But an agreement was reached with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe to allow the Finance Minister time to prepare and engage the matter. The idea to question the Minister emerged after the Sunday Standard revealed a communication informing Ministries that cabinet has made a 1percent across-the-board reduction to all ministerial budgets for 2015/2016 financial year.

Speaking to The Telegraph on Monday, Butale confirmed that the question will be on Tuesday’s order paper.
“I have been asked to draft the question to be placed in tomorrow’s order paper. I am currently working on it,” he said.

The budget was presented to Parliament on 02 February 2015. The savingram informing ministries about the cabinet decision to cut ministerial budget was written on 9th February 2015. Should the Minister fail to give answers before parliament today Umbrella for Democratic Change and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) are determined to take legal action.

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