Chief tears into govt over spend­ing

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

Thaba-bo­siu Prin­ci­pal Chief Khoa­bane Theko on Tues­day crit­i­cised govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to clear Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment (Mps)’s First Na­tional Bank loans.

The Min­istry of Fi­nance paid a stag­ger­ing M32 mil­lion early this year to clear the funds ob­tained in­ter­est-free by MPS who were part of the short-lived Eighth Par­lia­ment.

How­ever, news of the bailout only be­came pub­lic early this month, spark­ing out­rage across the political di­vide.

The leg­is­la­tors are each en­ti­tled to M500 000 bank loans which they re­pay over the five years they are in of­fice.

But af­ter their ten­ure ended midterm due to the col­lapse of the three-party govern­ment led by Thomas Tha­bane, the MPS ar­gued they could not ser­vice the debt any­more be­cause they no longer had an in­come, hence the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to pay FNB.

The govern­ment has how­ever, not said whether the MPS are still go­ing to pay back the money. But ac­cord­ing to Chief Theko, the bailout was reck­less and an abuse of pub­lic funds.

“It was shock­ing to learn about govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to pay for the MPS’ loans. How do we af­ford to do such a ridicu­lous thing in a coun­try so hard hit by poverty? How do we con­tinue with such a scheme when we are a least-de­vel­oped coun­try whose na­tional bud­get is fi­nanced by donor aid? Govern­ment should re­cover the money, be­cause it be­longs to the peo­ple; to tax­pay­ers,” said Chief Theko.

“Are we hon­estly con­tribut­ing to­wards the coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment and mak­ing sure the peo­ple get out of ex­treme poverty? We are now un­der a govern­ment with a prime min­is­ter who also buys out prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries’ con­tracts as though the mil­lions be­ing spent are noth­ing.

“The prime min­is­ter is do­ing this with­out any fear of what the pub­lic will say; in fact, he is do­ing this with pride.

“We are shocked by this reck­less spend­ing. It’s just rhetoric by govern­ment of­fi­cials when they say they care for the peo­ple.”

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