Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Parliament postpones OP budget over ‘irregularities’

Opposition parties on Thursday caused the postponement of the Presidential Affairs and Public Administration budget allocation, citing irregularities in the document.

Presenting his budget request for the 2013/14 financial year, Mokgweetsi Masisi proposed P195m for the purpose of augmenting the Office of the President’s office space by either direct purchase or construction of office buildings.

The request rubbed the opposition the wrong way, especially that the price tag of the building to be purchased is not shown.

“All the times the Office of the President is urgent when it comes to the allocation of the country’s budget even in these hard economic times. We have refurbished the State House, the barracks and the caravan under the guise that our elder is afraid of his enemies,” said Botswana Congress Party Member of Parliament, Kentse Rammidi.

Rammidi added: “We do not have fire extinguishers. Kanye Stadium was shelved with the government citing the economic meltdown; every time constituency development plans across the country are billed to take place, the government says ‘there is no money…there is no more’ hiding behind recession.”

He swore not to support the budget that does not indicate whether the government was to directly purchase or construct the office block.

“We do not know what you will do with the public money, whether you will build the office block or buy the controversial Orapa House or not,” Rammidi continued, moving without notice that the budget be postponed as it contained irregularities that need to be ironed out.

While the Speaker of the House initially rejected the development, citing the timing of the motion, she was eventually persuaded by the leader of opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change, Nehemiah Modubule.

“We should take into account the office block in question was never budgeted for as we have long rejected its proposal in the previous supplements,” said Modubule, referring to the Office of President’s past attempt to solicit money to purchase the Orapa House, which is rapidly becoming a white elephant.

He quashed the proposal to augment the budget to build an office block as unfounded since parliament never endorsed the budget as Masisi’s presentation seemed to purport.

The deadlock prompted the Speaker of the House, Margaret Nasha, to momentarily postpone the debate as the leadership consulted over the issue after which time she indefinitely postponed the budget until further notice.

‘We had a t├¬te-├á-t├¬te together and agreed that the matter be postponed,” Nasha informed the House after a break to which Masisi confirmed without a date being set for resumption of the debate.

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