Parliament has finally approved a M23, 7 billion budget for the 2020/2021 financial year. The budget was unanimously approved on Monday despite threats by some legislators to withhold their votes to pressure the government to increase their salaries from M35 000 to a staggering M75 000 each per month.
But in the end, the MPs did not fulfil their threats and the Appropriation Bill was unanimously approved by legislators from across the political divide.
Afterwards, a relieved Finance Minister Thabo Sofonea said he was happy the budget had been passed and the government ministries now had to get down to fully addressing the populace’s demands for efficient service delivery.
“I am very thankful that the bill has been passed,” Mr Sofonea said, adding, “Now the money can be released so that work can be done”.
Home Affairs Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa said although the approval of the budget was long overdue, he was also happy it was finally done. He said the various ministries should now be allocated all the funds due to them to enable them to offer efficient services to the nation.
The M23, 7 billion budget is actually higher than the M21, 7 billion budget proposed by then Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro when he presented his budget speech to parliament on 26 February 2020. Mr Sofonea did not say why the approved budget was higher than the initial estimates. The government has previously said that additional funding is needed to tackle the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic which had not been factored in when Dr Majoro, who is now prime minister, presented the budget speech in February.
About M18, 1 billion has been set aside for recurrent expenditure while capital expenditure has been budgeted at about M5, 6 billion.
The budget will be financed by government revenues amounting to about M17, 1 billion; external loans worth about M2 billion and donor grants worth M858 199 144.
The Ministry of Health was allocated the lion’s share of M3, 1 billion to enable it to tackle Covid-19 among other things.
It is followed by the Ministry of Education and Training which was allocated about M2, 8 billion and the Finance ministry which was given M1, 7 billion.
The rest of the ministries and other public offices were allocated as follows: Trade and Industry (M292 498 085); Development Planning (M1, 1 billion); Agriculture and Food Security (M666 174 038) and Foreign affairs (M453 994 761).
The Ministry of Communications Science and Technology received M219 985 523; Public Works (M937 208 200), Energy and Metrology (M862 919 535); Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation (M156 742 108); Prime Minister’s Office (M129 893 609); Labour and Employment (M55 246 804) and Tourism, Environment and Culture (M118 782 117).
The Ministry of Defence and National Security got M633 578 653; Local Government and Chieftainship (M801 865 039); Gender, Sport and Recreation (M309 198 235); Public Service (M42 112 367); Social Development (M410 183 058); Mining (M40 983 221); Police and Public Safety (M746 218 735); Small Business, Cooperatives, Marketing and Development (M135 087 482); Transport (M101 705 504); Water (M487 258 488); Justice, Human Rights and Correctional Services (M242 472 787) and Law and Constitutional Affairs (M96 219 389). The latter two ministries have been merged into one.
The Auditor General’s Office got M32 371 698; His Majesty’s Office (M123 095 565); National Assembly (M84 292 115); Senate (M58 561 696); Judiciary (M136 011 995); Public Service Commission (M14 705 429); Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (M25 928 888); Ombudsman (M10 514 614); Statutory salaries and allowances (M40 351 213); pensions and gratuities (M2 326 182 218); refunds on erroneous receipts (M2 268 000); centralised items (about M1, 1 billion), Public Debt (M2, 1 billion) and subscriptions to international organisations (M84 434 160).