Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Parliament unsettled over incessant supplementary expenditure

MPs Thursday lambasted the never ending requests for national supplementary budget aimed at financially propping-up the developmental projects, arguing that it shows that government lacks foresight.

Government pushed through parliament a whopping P 278 million from the supplementary provisions of P 4 billion during the 2009/2010 supplementary budget targeted towards 23 ongoing projects and the other two new ones.
Parliament was told that the following ministries: State President, Finance and Development Planning, Agriculture, Health, Science and Technology burnt cash at a much faster rate than originally thought by the planers.

Contributing to the request for supplementary budgets for ministries as suggested by the Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Charles Tibone, MPs expressed utter dismay at government’s perpetual demand to monetarily resuscitate developmental projects that suffer as a result of costs over run.

Parliamentarians said such moves were a clear indication that some persons, including the ministers were sleeping on their jobs.

Agues Mogoditshane MP Patrick Masimolole: “It is becoming increasingly fashionable every end of the year for this government to plead with this honourable House to sanction supplementary estimates for the developmental projects which were budgeted for and we, as parliamentarians, agreed upon only for the same government to come here and request for more money.

“This is a clear sign someone is sleeping at work. As suggested by some quarters, I have now come to the conclusion we have been turned into a rubberstamp parliament which would dance to every tune suggested by the minister. Batho ba tla fa ba re kukunela ngwaga le ngwaga ba batla dikoketso. (Finance ministers come here and want supplementary year after year.) We cannot afford to bear the same anomaly each and every time and this must come to a dead stop,” Masimolole thundered, although supportive of the motion.

While also supportive of the initiative Molepolole South MP, Daniel Kwelagobe, would not leave the assistant minister and his government unscathed insisting the request was a glaring epitome that they lack foresight and the planning systems.

“Every time we are subjected to accept apologies. Even your predecessor did the same thing and promised to take measures to ensure this impropriety comes to an end… but still the problem persists. This is a sign you do not plan properly to even elude the foreseeable circumstances such as under budgeting,” Kwelagobe said.

He took a swipe at government behavior to award tenders to individuals only to make a u-turn and attribute such a move to insufficient funds to carry the projects.

“We have been turned into liars in the eyes of our beloved voters who we would inform the much awaited projects had been endorsed only for the same to be halted, worse still without communication,” Kgatleng East MP, Isaac Mabiletsa, contributed.

Presenting the request for supplementary budget after the government allocated ‘insufficient funds”, Tibone pledged to crack the whip within his ministry.

“It has come to the fore that there was a problem in budgeting and financial management during the 2009/2010 financial year as evidenced by cost-overruns caused by inadequate budgeting, award of tenders without enough funds, change of scope of projects without authority for additional funds and transferring of funds between expenditure heads without de-prioritising those items from which funds were transferred.”

He said his ministry would start tightening controls in government accounting and budgeting system to ensure that funds are properly spent or moved from one vote to the other.

The ministry would further discourage ministries to seek funding for projects which have not been budgeted for by raising cabinet memoranda.

“If there is any new project or activity that a ministry or department is forced to implement during the course of the year even though there has been no budgetary provision, then they should immediately suspend some other project for that one to go ahead,” Tibone further revealed.

“This will address the problem where officers change the scope of projects without additional funding. My ministry will also, in conjunction with the government implementation coordination office ensure that the project management skills are imparted through training to project officers, planning officers and finance officers,” Tibone noted.

The persistent calls for supplementary budgets according to Selebi-Phikwe west MP, Gilson Saleshando, is an indication the country was wallowing in excess money to even commit silly mistakes knowing quite well they would obtain the same easily.

“It happens in the rich oil producing countries and as such I am not surprised the ruling Botswana Democratic Party is following the trend,” Saleshando said.

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