Moments before Parliament approved supplementary estimates of expenditure from consolidated and development funds, Bonnington South Member of Parliament Ndaba Gaolatlhe questioned the process used and capabilities of the Finance and Estimates Committee of Parliament to assess budget estimates presented before it by the executive. Making contributions to the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo’s presentation of Financial Paper No.2 of 2015/2016, on Friday Gaolatlhe said just the process of scrutiny used by the committee is embarrassing to say the least.
According to soft spoken MP, it is puzzling how a committee that is supposed to be scrutinising billions does not have a formalised process of carrying out such a mandate. Gaolatlhe also among others stated that at the most the committee lacks the capacity to implement and capacitate that what is required of it. “As a member of the committee I have even indicated my perspective where I felt the committee violated basic principles,” said Gaolatlhe. In carrying out its mandate, the committee according to Gaolatlhe sometimes could not justify the sustainability of projects that the funds were being issued for or point out the criteria used to prove that there was an emergency where it was purported so.
“Parliament needs to do better. We need to formalise the processes for carrying out this,” said Gaolatlhe. Meanwhile Financial paper No. 2 of 2015/16 that Matambo presented before parliament contains supplementary Estimates of Expenditure from the consolidated fund amounting to P24 259 600 and estimates from the Development fund for the sum of P1, 338, 920, 000. For the recurrent budget Matambo outlined that Parliament and the Administration of Justice have submitted supplementary requests amounting to a total sum of P24, 259, 600 to be funded from the Consolidated Fund.
The two institutions requests include among others an additional requirement by Parliament of P2 546 260 to augment the original provision under the basic salary account. This, he said, follows the adjustment of Salaries and Allowances for MPs including the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker which effected from 1st April 2015. The Administration of Justice, on the other hand, required supplementary funding amounting to P21 713 140 for allowances account shortfall in the service charges account due to increased consumption of water and electricity as well as increase in the cost of private security, cleaning and gardening services.
Part two of the financial paper, according to the Minister, contains proposals for the development fund supplementary estimates with respect to four on-going projects namely secondary schools, Water planning and development, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC ) finances and Retooling of technology research institutions. The submissions, he says, require an increase in the annual budget of P1, 338, 920, 000 and a Total Estimated Cost (TEC) increase of P2, 345, 549, 622. The development budget includes P826 800 000 through a Presidential Directive Cab 4(B)/2015 as additional cash into Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) for the 2014/2015 financial year.
Presidential Directive Cab 4 (B)/2015 also approved a cash injection to support Water Utilities Corporation’s operations and a special warrant of P560 000 000 was issued to augment the water planning and development project (09319) in March 2015.The funds included P388 000 000 as tariff subsidy and 172 000 000 for on-going emergency capital projects. This increased the 2014/15 annual budget by P560, 000, 000. The abovementioned funds were already disbursed and were only presented to parliament for ratification.
Matambo also requested the approval of P52 870 000 in order to roll out some of initiatives listed under the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP). This, he says, include two BITRI technologies: Kalahari Sand Building Block and Seding Solar Street Light. These projects, according to Matambo, will stimulate the economy by creating employment and establishing a framework for transferring the technologies into mainstream market and promote local manufacturing capability in the economy.