Op­po­si­tion sees red over de­layed bud­get

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

OP­PO­SI­TION po­lit­i­cal par­ties have called on the seven-party coali­tion gov­ern­ment to pri­ori­tise the al­lo­ca­tion of the na­tional bud­get for the 2015/2016 fi­nan­cial year once the 9th Par­lia­ment is of­fi­cially opened to­mor­row.

Par­lia­ment was ad­journed on 10 March 2015, soon af­ter the leg­is­la­tors, who were elected dur­ing the 28 Fe­bru­ary gen­eral elec­tions, had taken an oath of of­fice to pave way for the swear­ing-in of Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili and his cabi­net, which took place on 17 March and 31 March, re­spec­tively.

How­ever, the open­ing of the leg­is­la­ture was de­ferred to 8 May much to the cha­grin of op­po­si­tion MPS and cer­tain sec­tions of so­ci­ety.

One of the ma­jor high­lights of the par­lia­men­tary open­ing cer­e­mony is King Let­sie III’S Speech from the Throne to a joint sit­ting of the Na­tional As­sem­bly and Se­nate, which out­lines gov­ern­ment’s plans for its five-year ten­ure.

Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) deputy leader, Joang Mo­lapo, told the Le­sotho Times his party was pre­pared to work to­gether with gov­ern­ment as a “strong op­po­si­tion”, adding that they were ready to take gov­ern­ment to task over its bud­getary al­lo­ca­tions.

He said the bud­get al­lo­ca­tion process had been de­layed for so long that the gen­eral pub- lic did not know what gov­ern­ment was up to.

“We are now very keen to hear what this seven-party coali­tion gov­ern­ment’s poli­cies are and what they hope to achieve in the com­ing five years. Our role will be to hold the gov­ern­ment to ac­count for their prom­ises,” said Chief Mo­lapo.

“We, how­ever, fore­see a very con­fronta­tional par­lia­ment as this gov­ern­ment does not have a clear pro­gramme of ac­tion. When we were in gov­ern­ment, we pri­ori­tised spe­cific is­sues in our pro­gramme of ac­tion to en­sure there is sig­nif­i­cant growth in spe­cific fields.”

He added that in con­trast to the pre­vi­ous tri­par­tite gov­ern­ment’s “spe­cific” agenda, the cur­rent gov­ern­ment’s pro­gramme of ac­tion “tries to cover too many is­sues with very few re­sources”. The for­mer gov­ern­ment con­sisted of the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy and Chief Mo­lapo’s BNP.

“We fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing tourism, tech­nol­ogy and mak­ing it easy to ac­cess var­i­ous ser­vices. Our plan was to then di­ver­sify and grow the econ­omy by di­ver­si­fy­ing in­dus­try be­yond the tex­tile sec­tor to other in­dus­tries,” the for­mer Home Af­fairs min­is­ter said.

“Lastly, our fo­cus would have been on com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture devel­op­ment. How­ever, this gov­ern­ment wants to do ev­ery­thing at the same time and it’s not go­ing to achieve any­thing mean­ing­ful for Ba­sotho.

“So, we are keen to hear what the King will say as he reads the Speech from the Throne.”

ABC Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Sa­monyane Nt­sekele said the party was ea­ger to see the bud­get brought into the house for de­bate and ap­proval af­ter the Speech from the Throne.

“The is­sue of the bud­get has been static since this gov­ern­ment came into of­fice,” Mr Nt­sekele said.

“We still don’t know what it is the gov­ern­ment in­tends to do in this fi­nan­cial year due to the de­lay of bud­getary al­lo­ca­tions for two months. We un­der­stand that we held elec­tions in Fe­bru­ary, but gov­ern­ment didn’t need to take as long as they did.

“We need to know what the gov­ern­ment in­tends to spend our coun­try’s re­sources on.”

On her part, Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL) Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Mamolula Ntabe, who will be re­plac­ing the party’s deputy leader, Mot­lo­h­eloa Phooko, in par­lia­ment also called on gov­ern­ment to en­sure the bud­get would be al­lo­cated “as soon as pos­si­ble”.

Dr Phooko re­signed from par­lia­ment to fo­cus on shor­ing up sup­port for the RCL at grass­roots level.

“We hope to see the bud­get be­ing tabled be­fore par­lia­ment shortly af­ter the Speech from the Throne,” Ms Ntabe said.

“As a party, we are pre­pared to work har­mo­niously with the gov­ern­ment in par­lia­ment but we need to see progress be­ing made.”

rcl Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Mamolula Ntabe.

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