THE Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Monaphathi Maraka, was recently asked to ‘show cause’ why he should not be disciplined by the government for failing to make a budget presentation before the National Assembly’s Social Cluster Portfolio Committee last Tuesday.
Mr Maraka eventually made the presentation on Saturday together with Health Minister, Nkaku Kabi.
All ministries are required to present budget statements before the relevant portfolio committees, detailing how they spent the funds that were allocated to them in the previous financial year.
They also use the opportunity to ask for and justify the amounts they request for the new financial year.
As the chief accounting officer in his ministry, Mr Maraka, was expected to present the Health ministry’s budget before the parliamentary committee on Tuesday but he did not do so because he did not have the necessary documents.
Mr Maraka and his team appeared before the parliamentary committee on Tuesday and said they did not have the documents required for the presentation, a development which resulted in the Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, writing to him to ‘show cause’ why he should not be disciplined.
A source close to the developments this week told the Lesotho Times that “Mr Mphaka wrote to the PS (Mr Maraka) asking him to show cause why he should not be disciplined for failing to make the budget presentation on Tuesday”.
“The government is not happy that the PS didn’t prepare for the presentation even though he was fully aware of it in advance,” the source added.
Mr Maraka confirmed in an interview with this publication that he had been served with the ‘show cause’ letter.
“It is true that I have been served with the letter but I cannot into the details of this matter,” Mr Maraka said.
Meanwhile, Minister Kabi pleaded with the committee to ensure his ministry was adequately funded, saying “this is a critical ministry responsible for Basotho’s good health”.
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“We have many challenges like that of Tšepong (Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital) which gobbles half of our budget,” Mr Kabi said on Saturday, adding that the shortage of support staff at health centres contributed to the otherwise preventable loss of lives.
He said that they had plans to build more clinics in the remote parts of the country to ensure more people had access to health services.
He also underscored the need to improve service delivery, saying his ministry was hamstrung by its inability to oversee the construction of its own projects, a task that was carried out by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport which is responsible for all government construction work.
“Ours is just to avail the funds to the Public Works ministry and this puts us at the back seat. We are sometimes forced to return funds, some of which would be donor funds, whenever there are delays in executing projects,” he said.
For his part, the portfolio committee’s chairperson, Moshoeshoe Fako, pledged the parliamentary body’s support in helping the Health ministry fulfil its mandate.
“We are here to support you, help you overcome your challenges and find solutions to problems, not to fight with you.
Forget about what happened when you first appeared before this committee on Tuesday and work with us to achieve your primary objectives.
“Basotho are not happy with your services. Let us use this session to turn the page and bring positive change. From now on we will meet on a quarterly basis to ensure that we work together towards improving health services,” Mr Fako said.