Parliament was this past week caught between a rock and a hard place when the Finance and Economic Development Ministry brought an urgent request for approval of an additional P726 million for supplementary expenditure.
Under the Financial Paper Number 3 of 2016/17, which contains Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure from the consolidated fund pertaining to eight ministries, Nonofo Molefhi, who was standing in for the substantive Finance Minister requested amongst others P5.5 million for over spending by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DISS).
“The Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DISS) requires an additional amount of P15 500 000 to honour invoices for maintenance of computer systems.
“The Bot50 celebrations called for tightened security and this resulted in increased number of hours used by the directorate’s computer systems hence the request for additional funding as there was urgent need to service these systems,” Molefhi said on Friday.
When contributing to the debate, the Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Ministry headed by Tshekedi Khama told Parliament that by allowing the additional P5.5 million for the DISS, Parliament would be reflecting its “misplaced” priorities.
Tshekedi rallied Parliament to rather have the P5.5 million diverted to his ministry to allow him to pay compensation to Batswana whose property had been damaged by wildlife.
According to Tshekedi, the huge amount of money that is spent on DISS “could be used to pay families who have lost breadwinners due to the conflict between wildlife and human beings”.
For his part, leader of Opposition in Parliament, Duma Boko said that he could only support the budget if the money was to be allocated to the Botswana Police. “They are the ones who are fighting crime not the DIS”.
Selebi Phikwe West Member of Parliament, Dithapelo Keorapetse also beseeched Parliament to consider “removing” the DIS budget from the Financial Paper Number 3 of 2016/17.
At the time of voting, following a lengthy debate, the ruling party MPs triumphed, paving way for the distribution of the P726 million between the eight ministries including Presidential Affairs.
The Friday approval comes hardly a few weeks after the State President Ministry indicated that it would spend most of its Developmental and Recurrent Budget on the DIS.
Senior minister at the Office of the President, Eric Molale told the committee of supply recently that this year’s budget of his ministry represented an increase of 8.7 percent over last year’s budget.
The State President Ministry’s Recurrent Budget request for the 2017/18 financial year stand at over P1.2 billion while its Developmental Budget needs are expected to go just over P670 million.
Official figures which accompanies Molale’s presentation shows that DISS will get the largest share of both recurrent and development budget.
The figures shows that out of the proposed recurrent budget, the DISS will be allocated P337 million or 28 percent of the total budget. At the same time DISS will receive the largest share of the Developmental Budget at P261 million (38.9 percent) followed by the Poverty Eradication Programme at P188 million or 28 percent of the total budget.
According to Molale, the DISS will use its Developmental Budget to carry projects which include various infrastructure developments, improvements in communication network and acquisition of mobile platforms.