Contrasting fortunes for ministries in budget allocations
THE national budget for the fiscal year 2019/20 which was presented by the Minister of Finance Moeketsi Majoro before parliament yesterday came with several adjustments to ministerial allocations as compared to the previous year.
The health sector budget allocation has been increased to M2, 4 billion from M2, 2 billion in the 2018/19 financial year.
The Ministry of Health plans to employ 35 Basotho doctors and 252 nurses to be engaged in hospitals and clinics around the country.
To effectively tackle the cancer burden, the ministry has developed a comprehensive National Cancer Control Plan. In the meantime, the ministry has expanded cancer and renal care services by sending patients for treatment at Apollo Hospital in India.
On HIV and AIDS, the Ministry of Health will, as a means to reduce incidences and increase the coverage of Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART), continue to provide increasing multi-month ARV dispensing to allow Basotho working locally and in the Republic of South Africa enough medication to cover 3-6 months.
The ministry will further increase targeted HIV testing and services to key populations such as factory workers, the lesbian gay transgender bisexual and intersexual (LGTBI) community, migrant workers, adolescents and young women.
Government has proposed a 3, 1 billion allocation for the ministry, which is the largest allocation in the entire national budget.
In order to address the ongoing teachers’ strike, Dr Majoro said that teachers’ unions are being engaged to negotiate their return to duty. He said many of their grievances including payment of gratuities, outstanding arrears, and reinstatement of dismissed staff have been met. In addition, M35 million has been set aside in this budget for payment of teachers’ arrears and M11 million for teacher training.
The ministry also plans to spend M60 million as top-up funding for construction of classrooms and laboratories, particularly in the rural areas. It is thus clear that where possible grievances are being addressed by the government.
The Social Development ministry’s budget has been increased to M419 million up from M251, 7 million in the 2018/19 financial year.
The Ministry of Social Development is in the process of modernising social grants systems and expanding its reach to ultimately cover all councils nationally. The old age grant is increased by M50 from M700 to M750 per month.
The Finance ministry has been allocated M1, 49 billion as compared to the previous budget’s allocation of M1, 3 billion.
The Ministry of Development Planning allocation has slightly dipped from the last allocation of M793, 6 million to M785, 3 million for the 2019/20 financial year.
The Justice, Human Rights and Rehabilitation sector has seen its allocation take a tumble from M329, 7 million to M290 million this year.
Ministry of Home Affairs has been allocated M406, 2 million which marks a slight dip from the M451, 6 million it received last year. The ministry is responsible for producing identification documents for every Mosotho among other responsibilities.
Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation
For a long time the sporting fraternity has lamented the lack of adequate support from the government. This year the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation has been awarded M130, 7 million which is significantly less than the M155, 3 million it received in the 2018/19 financial year.
Police and Public Safety
The Ministry of Police and Public Safety’s budget has been increased from M716 million to M773, 5 million as peace and stability remain one of government’s top priorities.
Public Works and Transport
The ministry has been allocated M982, 5 million, which is a significant increase from last year’s M620, 1 million.
The Water Affairs ministry has been allocated M591, 8 million which is an increase from last year’s M515, 8 million.
The Ministry of Mining’s budget decreased from the previous M45, 8 million to M42, 1 million.
The Ministry of Mining is implementing the Minerals and Mining Policy and is presently reviewing existing agreements to ensure compliance with the vision of the policy. The underlying principle for this policy is that all minerals below ground belong to Basotho and Basotho must benefit more than anybody else whenever the minerals are extracted. To address concerns about the industry, government will draw up and implement a comprehensive policy implementation plan during 2019.
It is expected that the geochemical mapping process, which will identify in full Lesotho’s mineral potential, will be completed in 2019.
The Foreign Affairs and International Relations ministry has this year been allocated M337, 5 million. This represents a decline from the M348, 6 million allocation of previous financial year.
The Agriculture and Food Security ministry’s budget allocation has been increased from M335, 1 million to M703, 8 million.
The government has taken a decision to promote and invest heavily in commercial farming as a strategy to address food security, unemployment and the shortage of foreign currency reserves.
The ministry will continue its efforts to attract private investors into commercial agricultural production. Block farming on wheat appears to have been very successful during the current cropping season and the ministry will continue to promote this approach during the year. The World Food Programme working with the ministry, has launched a local purchase programme which will guarantee markets for small producers of grains and ensure that the School Feeding Programme buys its food from Lesotho producers.
The Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs’ budget allocation has been reduced from M872, 1 million to M863, 1 million.
During the 2019/20 financial year, the government will formulate and conclude a fiscal decentralisation roadmap, which shall set standards for the use of national financial resources.
This fiscal year, the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology’s budget has been significantly increased from M162, 2 million to M225, 8 million.
In order to accelerate the implementation of the e-government service, the government will establish 46 community e-services centres, housed in the Postal Services branches and agencies countrywide.
With this model, the Ministry of Communications, Science & Technology, will provide online access to government services using post offices as a delivery vehicle. Procurement processes for the equipment of five e-services centres (Sehlabathebe, Ketane, Mapholaneng, Sehonghong and Mt. Moorosi) are at advanced stage, with the rest of the 41 e-service centres to be established under the e-government Infrastructure Phase II project. Two such service centres (Mantsonyane & Kubake Community councils) have since been completed. It is worth noting that the idea is that the e -service centres will also enable other government agencies, namely LRA and PostBank, to bring their services closer to the people using the infrastructure.
The Ministry of Energy and Meteorology’s budget allocation has been increased from M208, 7 million to M325, 5 million.
The ministry is exploring the possibility of increasing the generation of hydro-electricity (in collaboration with the LHDA), and wind and solar power. Two solar investments are about start at Ha Ramarothole in Mafeteng to generate 90MW by 2025. One of the investments is led by a private company, One Power, which is planning to generate 20 MW.
Despite being identified as one of the pillars to drive economic growth, the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture’s budget has been reduced from M181, 2 million to M171 million.
Cabinet has approved the establishment of the Tourism Development Fund which shall be funded by the Tourism Development Levy. The ministry are in discussions with potential investors, several of whom, have joined the investment laboratories being launched tomorrow.
The ministry has been allocated M643, 4 million, which is a reduction from last year’s M661 million.
From last year’s M193, 2 million, Ministry of Forestry and Land Reclamation has seen its budget reduced to M155, 8 million.
The Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing has been working tirelessly to launch and improve micro and medium enterprises in the country throughout the past financial year. However, their budget has been cut from M193, 9 million to M160, 5 million.
Labour and Employment
The ministry has been allocated M49, 6 million, which is a reduction from last year’s M53, 7 million.
Trade and Industry
The ministry has been allocated M227, 5 million, which is up from the previous M218, 8 million.
The ministry has been allocated M42, 6 million, down from M44, 6 million.