Saturday, October 24, 2020

Ministry of Finance makes good its errors

The Ministry of Finance has corrected a budgeting mistake which had led to the parliamentary Finance and Estimates Committee throwing out a request for funds to buy a new presidential jest.
The Ministry has annexed a withdrawal warrant to the report of the Committee.
This is despite a rebuttal by Assistant Minister of Finance Duncan Mlazie to this paper late last year dismissing a Sunday Standard report that mistakes had been made in the request for money to buy the presidential jet.
The annexure is in the form of a letter by Minister of Finance Baledzi Gaolathe to his Permanent Secretary Serwalo Tumelo, authorizing a withdrawal warrant of the sum of P180 million as part of the Special warrant issued in respect of the Special Jet.
The letter is dated December 15, 2006. This is in line with the instruction by the Finance and Audit Committee which threw away the request for money to buy a presidential jet late last year.
The correction has since been annexed to the Finance and Audit Report.
The ministry corrected the mistake after the Finance and Audit Committee report had exposed errors of budgeting by the ministry.
The Committee had sent back the request of funds by the ministry citing a failure to follow laid down budgetary procedures.
In the request for P60 million sum to be used as advance payment for the presidential jet in the Botswana Defence Force vote, the Committee observed that the BDF still had over P500 million unutilized funds in their vote which could be used without having to ask for extra funding from parliament
In their report the Committee had further instructed the Minister of Finance to make a fresh application to parliament; an application that would reflect the correct financial standing of the Botswana Defence Force.
For most part of last year the Ministry of Finance was firefighting queries by members of parliament who doubted the integrity of economic statistical data used by the ministry.
All hell broke loose following a damning Parliamentary Accounts Committee report which accused the ministry of effectively playing fast and loose with figures to cook up a balanced budget.
For two consecutive years the PAC lashed out at the ministry of deliberately furnishing the nation with wrong data aimed at proving a falsely rosy state of the economy.
In the end the PAC came to the conclusion that by forcing the high figures of money likely to be recovered by other ministries through cost recovery initiatives the Ministry of Finance had led the nation into a false sense of contentment that the economy was doing well.

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