Saturday, October 31, 2020

Masisi orders spending cuts amid Covid-19

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has directed that all ministries should cut administrative budget, new hiring freeze and postpone non-critical projects in the face of coronavirus outbreak a document seen by The Telegraph shows.

According to a savingram from Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Hazel Reaitsanye addressed to various departments in order to curb the widening budget deficit, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MFED) took drastic steps of reducing/cutting all Ministries’ budgets (both recurrent and development) through Presidential Directive CAB 02EXO/2020 dated 21st April, 2020.

“As you are all aware, the world at large is currently in the midst of dealing with COVID-19 pandemic, of which Botswana is not an exception. The effects of this pandemic has adversely affected the global as well as the domestic economy,” she said.

To this end, Reaitsanye said the Ministry of Health and Wellness recurrent budget for 2020/21 financial year has been reduced by P1,043,021,500.00, while the development budget was cut by P207, 000,000.00.

“The budget cut has and is going to greatly impact our Ministry’s operations and activities for this current financial year. In light of these new developments, management has directed that planned activities for the current financial year be reviewed,” said Reaitsanye.

The senior official further stated: “Of particular and immediate acting are the following; Paid overtime for officers engaged on COVID-19 activities to be stopped effective 24 June 2020and officers to be compensated with day-offs.”

She directed that Directors and District Health Management Teams (DMHT) coordinators should put in place stringent measures to curb overtime expenditure in their facilities and departments through supervision to make sure that work is done and completed during working hours.

“Where work cannot be completed during working hours, employees should be engaged for compensation through day offs in lieu of paid overtime. In exceptional cases, prior authorization of overtime work with hours of work limited to 14 hours per week as Guidelines on overtime shall be requested from the Permanent Secretary’s Office,” she said.

Reaitsanye said the budget cut includes vacant positions at the value of P93 million which the Ministry has to forfeit to cover the amount.

“This means that acting appointments on those positions will not be allowed as they will be non- existent. You will be informed of the actual forfeited positions,” said Reaitsanye.

She said further guidance on other activities to be affected by the budget will be communicated. “Head of departments and DHMT Coordinators are implored to ensure that the little financial resources already sub warranted to them are used sparingly and for critical and prioritized activities as their will be no additional funding availed. You are further requested to contribute to ways in which the Ministry can cut on expenditures and cut on wastages,” said Reaitsanye.

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