Members of the public and back-benchers are suspicious that ministers do not do their homework properly, resulting in parliament and the nation being fed wrong information.
On Friday, the minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Daniel Kwelagobe, apologized before the House that he gave wrong information on the expenditure incurred in the recent two presidential salaries commissions.
“I wish to make corrections to the statement that I made in this house on 27th March 2008 about the expenditure incurred in the two presidential salaries commissions. The actual expenditure as per Government Accounting and Budgeting System (GABS) as of 9th April 2008 under allocation ‘Office of the President- President Commissions’ (0202-01398-00411 is P6 252 699,45 as against the earlier stated figure of P1 526 899,” revealed Kwelagobe, sparking fears other commissions, inter alia, the Civil Servants and Ntlo ya Dikgosi Commissions could also be inaccurate.
“The error was a result of entries which were not yet captured relating to external travel, air charter and airfares, office equipment, furniture and computers, office rentals, sub contracts to Actuarial Services companies, staff overtime and related costs,” he said.
The Salaries Commissions, initiated and sponsored by the government with tax-payers money, have of late been the centre of the storm with the public and the politicians alike condemning the initiatives.
Given that the commissions expenditure amounts to millions of pula and the commissions’ proposals are never adopted, the total exercise is a waste of Batswana money, they argued.
Asked by Tswapong South legislator, Oreeditse Molebatsi, if he ever checked the information presented, the minister answered in the affirmative.
Further pressed, Kwelagobe added he was unhappy with his subordinates’ performance since it had since surfaced they supplied him with wrong and misleading information. He has since instructed punishment to be executed soon.
“I have since instructed their secretary to crack the whip.”
To avoid future embarrassment, the recently appointed chairman of the ruling BDP is expecting the President Salaries Commissions to accumulate expenditure figure because vouchers from central transport organization department had not yet arrived.
“For record purposes, I should indicate that the capturing of adjustment vouchers for 2007/2008 from the department of supply, Central Transport Organization and districts that were visited by the commissioners is still on going. I am told therefore that the final abstract of the annual statement of accounts will only be finalized around July 2008.However, I do not believe the difference will be significant.”
Asked if the commissions serve any importance, Kwelagobe responded, “It is the responsibility of the Office of the President to decide because they are the ones who come about with such initiatives.”
Mabiletsa believes these commissions could be carried out by in-house personnel to avoid excessive expenditure and “live within our means”.
In an attempt to attract the much needed expertise and thwart exodus of expertise from governmental departments, government in the previous year embarked on civil servants salaries commissions. The expenditure incurred on these commissions amounted to millions of pula but without the intended targets – to induce and attract the civil servants- much to the disappointment of the civil servants.
While the commissioners danced to a tune of 30 percent salary increase across the board, the government danced to a completely different song and adopted a half percent salary increase across the board, which came into effect at the beginning of the month.
Thus, the public’s questioning of the credibility of these expensive commissions.