The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has written to Parliament requesting for a diversion of atleast P179 million from the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) monies.
If agreed, the money will be used to bail out the loss-making Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) which is also under the custody of MoA. The company owes both farmers and the government.
According to a report submitted to the Finance Committee of Parliament, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Jimmy Opelo explained that the P179 million is sourced from the ISPAAD budget, which on its own reported to be in-sufficient. Those close to the government enclave already project that the diversion will result in the crop sub-sector affected negatively.
In his request, Opelo admitted that the ISPAAD budget is already committed for various projects which could cost up to more P380 million.
The budget for ISPAAD for financial year 2018/19 is P564 million. Of this amount, Opelo said, P300 million is already committed leaving a balance of P264 million. Taking away a further P179 million to bail out BMC leaves a balance of P85 million creating a shortage of P297 million.
BMC is said to be owing government about 700 million pula. The loss making parastatal has been bogged by operational inefficiencies, aged equipment, low output and cash flow problems. It averaged losses of about 100 million pula in the last three years resulting in bailouts from treasury.
Meanwhile the beef exporting agency recently cancelled its Direct Cattle Purchasing Scheme due to lack of sufficient money. The agency is currently without a Chief Executive Officer following the departure of Akolang Tombale whose contract ended less than three months back.