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Govt ordered to pay service providers

 

Billy Ntaote

PARLIAMENT’S portfolio committee on Law and Public Safety has ordered government ministries under its purview to pay the M4.6 million owed to service providers.

The committee’s report was tabled in the National Assembly last Tuesday by its chairperson, Lineo Molise-Mabusela of the Democratic Congress, and adopted by the august house.

Ms Molise-Mabusela said the ministries of Home Affairs, Police and Public Safety, Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights, Justice and Correctional Services, the Judiciary, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences, Independent Electoral Commission and the Ombudsman’s Office owed service providers M4 659 803.81.

“The committee, therefore, convened a meeting with all concerned ministries and statutory bodies within the scope of the committee and interrogated them on the issue of non-payment of suppliers,” she said.

“We observed that they contributed to delays in processing the payment of suppliers, and that the procurement regulations of 2007 were weak and need to be amended.

“The ministries and the statutory bodies were instructed to pay their suppliers speedily to avoid the collapse of the businesses.”

Ms Molise-Mabusela also noted that the allocation of government tenders was skewed in Maseru’s favour at the expense of other districts.

“We want to see a change in the companies that are given tenders, since only a few companies are usually awarded such jobs,” she said.

“What is also problematic, and fuelling the unequal distribution of wealth in this country, is the fact that even catering services jobs are being given to a few companies. As a result, only a few companies provide catering services during government events.”

Ms Molise-Mabusela added: “We need to see a change in government ministries and statutory bodies’ procurement methods so that there is equal distribution of wealth among Basotho-owned businesses.

“The businesses should also be speedily paid for their services to the government.”

Makhaleng constituency Member of Parliament, Mootsi Lehata, echoed the same sentiments, saying government should arrest the red tape that delays payments to service providers and results in the collapse of many small and medium-sized enterprises.

“The three-month tax clearance certificates need to be abolished as they adversely affect small businesses,” the DC legislator said.

“It can take government more than six months to pay for services satisfactorily rendered by businesses. The unfortunate thing is that such a business would have to pay the Lesotho Revenue Authority taxes for services rendered to government even though it would not have been paid. This leads to the collapse of businesses.”

 

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