Opposition reacts to budget

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Ntsebeng Motsoeli

OPPOSITION parties have expressed mixed feeling on the 2020/2021 budget presented by opposition parties with many saying it is pro-rich.

The leader of the Democratic Party of Lesotho (DPL), Limpho Tau, said the budget was anti-poor because it failed to address issues of national interest.

Mr Tau said the budget fell short of showing how the past budget was implemented.

“There is absolutely nothing to write home about in this budget speech,” Mr Tau said.

“It is the same old talk. It is a copy of last year’s budget. Last year, the minister claimed to have 80 bankable projects from the investment laboratory which were projected to create 20 000 new jobs. This year, the number of the bankable projects has been reduced to 77 and projected to create 30 000 jobs.

“However, he did not tell Parliament how many jobs were actually created from the last year’s budget against the 20 000 projection.”

He said in the last financial year, the budget had projected that the Belo Industrial Area would create around 20 000 jobs but the current budget has reversed the figures to 14 500 and failed to indicate how many jobs had created since last year.

Mr Tau said the least Dr Majoro could have done was to tell parliament how many jobs were created in the ongoing construction phase of the project.

Mr Tau added that last year Dr Majoro complained about ministers working in silos encouraging them to stop or the country’s growth efforts would be disjointed.

“He makes the same complaint this time around meaning nothing has been done to address the issue.

“We know that the ministries will give us reports in parliament but he should have given us the highlights on the successes and shortcomings of the last year’s budget estimations.”

He however, hailed the five percent salary increase for civil servants but said it was trivialised by the increase in taxes on essentials like telecommunications (three percent) and electricity (one percent).

National Independent Party leader, Kimetso Mathaba, said while the government had done its best with the budget, it still fell short of addressing pressing national issues like job creation and poverty alleviation strategies.

He added that the budget did not indicate how the government intends to strengthen its endeavours of harnessing as much revenue as possible to beef up its coffers.

“The budget does not say how the government plans to source revenue on things such as tourism and royalties from precious stones sales. It does not show us how far they have gone in implementing measures to alleviate poverty,” Mr Mathaba said.

He said is was concerning that the wage bill continued to grow even after calls for reduction.

“It is worrying that the wage bill continues to grow and this make one wonder how the government will finance all the projects and if they will sustain the proposed five percent salary increment,” Mr Mathaba said.

Democratic Congress deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa said the five percent salary increment was “campaign manifesto” for Dr Majoro that will take up most of the public funds and possibly cause shortages in other areas.

He said it did not make sense that civil servants’ salaries were increased despite the financial deficit that Dr Majoro.

“The five percent increment is just a manifesto that he will use to campaign for elections. The rate at which the government is spending public funds, it is only going to frustrate the progress of other planned projects such as road constructions and youth apprenticeship programmes,” Mr Letsosa said.

“We are likely to see the government failing to implement some of these projects if the five percent increment is passed. They have wasted so much of the public funds that they can successfully implement the increment and at the same time manage finance other projects,” Mr Letsosa said.

 

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