MASERU — Political leaders yesterday expressed mixed feelings about the 2012/2013 budget presented by Finance Minister Timothy Thahane.
Home affairs deputy minister Lineo Molise lauded the budget saying it showed Lesotho was still self-sufficient in spite of the current global financial crisis.
“The government has managed to rise above the economic crisis and prove that we can still be financially self-sufficient despite the odds,” Molise said. “It was well-articulated.”
National Independent Party (NIP) MP, Letuka Nkole, who is also a member of parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said he was worried that half the time government funds were not being properly used.
“As a member of the PAC, I’ve got to worry whether the money will be used for the purposes allocated,” Nkole said.
“We see so many shocking things when drafting PAC reports, like the misuse and mismanagement of public funds by government ministries. I hope this year will be different.”
Serialong Qoo, the LCD MP for Malingoaneng said he was happy with the increase in old age pensions.
Thahane increased the pensions from the current M300 to M350 a month.
Qoo said he was also happy that Thahane had not slashed the allocation to the National Manpower Development Secretariat.
“One would assume that the money would be less considering Lesotho’s financial situation. I applaud the minister for ensuring that Basotho children will continue to get the education they deserve,” Qoo said.
He said he was also pleased with plans by the Ministry of Works to improve road infrastructure throughout the country.
Senate chief whip, Chief Khoabane Theko, said he was happy to forego a three percent salary increment to allow lowly paid civil servants to benefit.
He said he was disappointed in that most of the budget “is just rhetoric”.
“It doesn’t say how the money is going to be used. The budget remains the same every year, there are no specific highlights and it doesn’t address issues in full due to time allocated for presentation,” Theko said.
Basotho National Party secretary general, Ranthomeng Matete, criticised the budget as a bureaucratic routine with no exceptional measures to rescue Lesotho from poverty.
“It doesn’t engage Basotho. It’s just business as usual,” Matete said.
Thabang Kholumo, the deputy leader for Popular Front for Democracy, said although he was happy that the government wanted to review Lesotho’s education curriculum to make graduates more marketable “the minister is silent on how that is going
to be achieved”.
“Although they have enforced reduced school fees, they do not say how they are going to help schools succeed in offering practical subjects when they cannot generate money on their own. It’s a case of contradictions,” Kholumo said.
Marematlou Freedom Party leader, Moeketse Malebo, said it was weird that Thahane had proposed debate between the government and parents on how parents can contribute to their children’s education.
“NMDS has consistently been poorly managed. There has been a lot of wastage of public funds there. There should be debate on its management, not how parents can contribute in paying fees for their children,” Malebo said.
Malebo also condemned the M50 increase on old age pensions, describing it as too little at a time when a forensic audit had shown that M80 million disappeared from the fund last year.
“Why do old people deserve that little when so much money can be lost in just 12 months? A good budget needs good management and that’s what’s lacking,” Malebo said.