By:Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The All Basotho Convention (ABC) proportional representative (PR) member Hon Montoeli Masoetsa has called out acts of impunity in both the government and the parastatals saying something has to give if the country is to see progress.

This he was saying in reaction to the recent mid-term budget tabled by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane.

The Minister highlighted that there is an underperformance on the budget that was tabled earlier this year and came into force on April 1.

She told the parliament joint sitting that “It is envisaged that revenue is likely to underperform by M2, 4 billion and register M22, 7 billion which is in line with nominal GDP growth which slowed this year. Contributing to this poor performance is tax revenue, which is likely to miss its target of M11 billion by 17 percent, equivalent to M1, 9 billion”.

This did not impress Masoetsa saying more ought to have been done to try and salvage the country out of the problems it is in.

The government is criticized for spending more on recurrent budget that the capital budget, a move that result in poor infrastructure and slow progress on capital projects.

The Minister of Finance highlighted that the expenditure is estimated at M24, 1 billion an equivalent of 60 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).Of this amount, she pointed out that the recurrent spending was estimated at M17, 8 billion and make up 73.8 percent of the total budget, while investment spending was at around 26.2 percent of the total which is M6,3 billion.

“The fact of the matter is that the country has no money; it has been engulfed by corruption,” Mosoetsa charged.

The legal instruments Masoetsa said while they are in place the corruption happens nonetheless and the enforcement is lacking.  

He alleged that the people steal with “impunity” as reported in the successive Auditor-General’s reports.

Masoetsa is a member of the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which is mandated to provide an oversight function regarding the finances of government ministries, parastatals and in companies that the government has over 50 percent stake.  

The Standing Order 97(5) charges the PAC with the responsibility to “consider the financial statements and accounts of all government ministries and departments, executive organs of state, courts, authorities and commissions established by the Constitution and each of the two Houses of Parliament; … any audit reports issued on the financial statements, accounts or reports referred to the Committee by the House, the Speaker, or these Standing Orders”.

The PAC “may report on any of the financial statements, accounts, or reports …; or initiate any investigation in its area of competence”.

The successive governments had seemingly failed to implement the PAC report findings as many people figured to be involved in corruption practices by the PAC and the Auditor-General’s report has still not faced the consequences.

He suggested that Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) assets forfeiture unit should be beefed up and should also go after the prominent people.

The unionist cum politician claimed that there is “too much corruption” alluding to the ongoing national project of the royal palace which remains incomplete 10 years down the line calling the project “an embarrassment”.

He alleged that people who were “embezzling” the state funds are now the Ministers.

Politicians need to have a political will to ensure that the budget is fully utilized.

“We need to see to it that we pass the laws that will see people suspected to have stolen the public funds be speedily prosecuted. Unless we enact laws that will deter people from engaging in criminal activities, all we are doing in here [in the National Assembly] will be a futility,” he said.