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Ministry fails to spend funds

Caswell Tlali

MASERU – The Ministry of Education returned M308 million to the Treasury during the last five years after failing to spend the money, Parliament heard last week.

Opposition party leaders told Parliament on Wednesday that it was unfair for the ministry to continue to get the biggest chunk of funds and yet fail to spend the money accordingly.

Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) leader Moeketse Malebo told parliament that in the 2003/2004 financial year, the ministry returned M9 million to the treasury.

This happened when some projects that were undertaken by the ministry failed to take off while others were left uncompleted.

During the 2004/2005 financial year, the ministry returned M86 million, while another M77 million was not utilised the following year.

Malebo said the ministry failed to use M25 million that was allocated to it in 2006/2007.

It also returned M111 million in the 2007/2008 financial year.

A report for 2009/2010 is not yet available but the MFP leader said he expected the ministry not to have exhausted its funds.

“This is very worrying and I want the Honourable Minister to assure us that she is not going to return the funds we are allocating her ministry for the 2011/2012 financial year unspent,” Malebo said.

“A supplementary budget was requested for the Ministry of Education in this financial year despite that they failed to spend M111 million in 2007/2008.”

Basotho Batho Democratic Party leader, Jeremane Ramathebane, said the education ministry was getting too much money.

“I advise the government to shift its focus to other ministries,” Ramathebane said.

“The focus on the ministry is too much and the results are that there are too many educated people walking up and down the streets jobless and hungry because the government does not capacitate other ministries to enable them to feed themselves.”

Education Minister ’Mamphono Khaketla told parliament she expected her ministry to spend all the allocated funds by March 31 when the current financial year ends.

Khaketla said in January when she prepared the budget for the 2011/2012 financial year the ministry had already spent 83 percent of its allocated funds.

Last year parliament allocated M1.68 billion to the ministry.

“The ministry is expecting that by the end of March it will have spent all the money allocated to it or perhaps surpassed the expenditure a little bit,” Khaketla said.

Khaketla said the bulk of her budget this financial year would go towards salaries.

“About M1.35 million is directed to salaries and wages, while M13.9 million is for travel and transport,” she said.

The ministry’s official entertainment budget has been slashed from last year’s M1.2 million to M119 000 this year.

Khaketla said her total budget increment was caused by the withdrawal of the World Food Programme from the government’s primary schools feeding scheme.

“The government now has to shoulder feeding the school children alone,” she said.

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