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Bid to bar budget

Business

Mohloai Mpesi

Former Deputy Prime Minister and leader of opposition, Monyane Moleleki has vowed to block passage of the forthcoming national budgetary estimates which were initially set to be presented before a joint sitting of Parliament today.

Although the presentation has been pushed back to next Wednesday, Moleleki is adamant to demonstrate his protest and dissatisfaction towards the budget which is set to be delivered by the Minister of Finance, Thabo Sofonea.

Speaking to Newsday in an exclusive interview yesterday, the veteran parliamentarian said that the budget needs to be annulled as it has been drawn out of no coffers, labeling it a ‘deficit budget.’

“When the Minister of Finance reads the budget, I am going to walk out in protest because they are a bunch of clowns; they pretend that they are going to collect so much revenue and use it for certain plans yet they never did,” Moleleki said.

The irate former minister of Natural Resources said Lesotho has stretched to 13% deficit budget which amounts to a whopping M4.5 billion.

“That is a statement on its own because I am voting but with my feet, they will pass it yes but they will be held accountable and they will have to bear the consequences.

“This deficit budget of 13% amounts to M4.5 billion which makes addendum of M7.7 billion of the money lied to the nation about. There cannot be any harm than that, it’s shocking. All this is happening because of having weaklings of leaders in (Dr. Moeketsi, the Premier) Majoro and (Deputy Premier Mathibeli) Mokhothu,” he lashed out.

He further pointed out that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) allows only up to 3% of deficit budget, but Lesotho has surpassed that to make it 13% which puts the country at a great financial risk.

According to the Acting Auditor General Monica Besetsa’s Audit report for the year ended on March 31, 2020 there was an unexplained amount of around M3.5 billion.

“I could not establish with certainty the number of bank accounts the government of Lesotho held in various banks and the balances thereon as at March 31, 2020. The Accountant-General did not maintain properly the register for bank accounts and the banks also provided inconsistent information regarding active, new and closed accounts.

“Note 15 to the financial statements shows that government has 374 accounts totaling M5.311 billion as at March 31, 2020 however, the consolidated statement of cash receipts and payments reflect that government had cash of M8.724 billion resulting into unexplained difference of M3.474 billion,” the report reads.     

Approached for a comment on the claims, finance minister Thabo Sofonea could not be brought into either declined or confirming the notion of deficit budget yesterday.    

He urged the public to wait to hear his presentation in parliament on the specified date least he puts his cart before the horses. He continued that spilling out the details of the budget would make people lose interest in it.       

“I don’t want to talk about the details of the budget before presenting it before parliament because it would be of no use to present it if I start talking about it now,” Sofonea said.

He further said some workers’ unions had even ganged up and gone to his office fuming, saying that they had it on good authority that they are going to get 0% salary increment in the year of 2022/2023.

“I say let us wait and be patient, if there is anything to discuss we will do that after the speech, take your pen and paper during the speech and note things which you are not satisfied about then take them up,” he said.      

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