LMDA broke, owes suppliers M40 million

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Pascalinah Kabi

THE Lesotho Millennium Development Agency (LMDA) is broke and owes its suppliers millions of maloti.

The LMDA was established by the government to oversee the implementation of development projects funded by the United States’ Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

LMDA CEO Keketso Chalatse confirmed that the agency was broke in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.

Mr Chalatse said although they recently received about M16 million from the government this was grossly inadequate and they still needed about M40 million more to fully settle their debts.

He said this in response to allegations that the agency had not been paying its suppliers for the past six months. The agency is also said to be negotiating with the service providers to lower their rates to enable it to curb its spending and help it meet its financial obligations.

“The honest truth is that we are struggling to meet our financial obligations and unable to pay service providers,” Mr Chalatse said.

“This is because we are the implementers and there is a funder which is the government of Lesotho. It looks like the government is struggling in terms of finances. We have been struggling since January 2021 and things got really tough at the beginning of the current financial year which started in April.”

Mr Chalatse said they needed about M40 million to pay outstanding debts to suppliers.

“We are talking about M40 million. This is the amount of money that is supposed to be paid to suppliers who have already completed their assignments. They have submitted invoices which have been approved by the LMDA and we have agreed to pay them that amount.

“I must acknowledge that we were recently given money, about M16 million last week, and we had to give each one of the suppliers a small amount as payment just to try and ensure that everyone is taken care of. I must say that our contractors are not violent, they are always willing to come to the table and discuss issues.”

Mr Chalatse said they had communicated their plight to Finance Minister, Thabo Sophonea, his principal secretary Nthoateng Lebona as well as health ministry officials. These had in turn informed the LMDA that the government was also struggling to meet its financial obligations.

“We were informed that things were not easy and all government ministries were facing financial constraints.

“Last week we met the contractors supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) to explain the situation we are faced with. Two weeks ago, we met those who provide security. They had come to seek clarification and I told them the same things that I’m telling you now. Honestly, it looks like the well is drying up.

“We have contractors providing security services at our clinics. With the growing number of killings, people are scared but when there are security officers, the nurses feel safe to wake up in the middle of the night and attend to pregnant women and other patients. But the current situation is that the contractors have not been paid for months and a security officer is unlikely to go to work. Anything can happen when an employee is not paid. Now, you can imagine the nurses’ fear when there is no security at the clinics.

“We also provide meals for patients at the clinics but you can imagine what it must be like when there is no money. The caterer is forced to buy all the ingredients with their monies and we pay them at the end of the month. Now that we have not paid them for months, you can imagine what they are feeding the patients,” Mr Chalatse said.

He said it was now difficult for them to insist on quality services from the contractors as they had not paid them.

He said the only way out of their predicament was for the government to cut back on its spending in non-critical sectors and prioritise institutions like the LMDA which were operating in critical sectors.

 

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