Govt seeks M659 million for Covid-19 response

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Bereng Mpaki

THE government will soon request parliament to re-direct M659 million from the 2020/2021 capital budget towards the country’s Covid-19 response programmes.

This according to the chairperson of the economic and development parliamentary portfolio committee, Samuel Rapapa.  Mr Rapapa on Tuesday said some capital projects planned for the 2020/21 financial year were likely to be canned if the government’s request is granted.

The M659 million will form the large chunk of the M698 million the government has budgeted for the Covid-19 response. The remaining M39 million has already been raised from unused funds from the 2019/20 financial year.

Initially, the government had not included the Covid-19 response budget in the budget speech presented to parliament by Finance minister Moeketsi Majoro on 26 February 2020. Dr Majoro later proposed an amendment to the capital budget to cater for the Covid-19 response.

Mr Rapapa said the M4, 7 billion capital budget would be reduced by M659 million if parliament approves the government’s request.

“Parliamentary committees were briefed about the Finance minister’s intention to propose an amendment amounting to M659 094 583 to cater for Covid-19…,” Mr Rapapa said.

“The Ministry of Finance indicated that… the government found it befitting to have a dedicated structure and budget for fighting Covid-19. As a result, the government reviewed the 2020/21 budget estimates by cutting a portion of the capital budget. This budget will be administered by the Disaster Management Authority (DMA).”

Mr Rapapa said using the capital budget for Covid-19 fight was likely to delay some capital projects that were due to be implemented during the 2020/21 financial year.

He said this would also result in 90 percent reduction of the budget for the construction of the National Drugs Service Organisation’s (NDSO) storage facility.

Mr Rapapa’s committee proposed reducing “the total budget for Covid-19 by M16 169 758, 84 which has already been used… for dressings and drugs”.

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