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TRC pleads with govt: Postpone budget speech

Staff Reporter

AN influential non-governmental organisation has called for the postponement of the 2020/21 budget speech to prevent “any possible (negative economic repercussions) caused by the uncertainty surrounding the planned departure of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro is expected to present the budget speech on Wednesday in parliament but the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) says it must be deferred at least until after the successor to Dr Thabane has been agreed.

Dr Thabane first announced on 16 January that he was stepping down due to old age and on Thursday he said he would retire at the end of July this year.

Ever since the announcement of his impending departure, his All Basotho Convention (ABC) has held several meetings and nominated party chairperson Samuel Rapapa, deputy spokesperson, ‘Matebatso Doti and Health Minister Nkaku Kabi as the three candidates to succeed him. Other party stalwarts like Dr Majoro are also said to be eying the top job and so far, the party has failed to agree on the successor.

This, according to the TRC, has bred uncertainty which could affect investor confidence hence the need to postpone the budget speech at least until after the new premier has been named.

The TRC also believes it is necessary to postpone the budget speech so that when it is eventually presented, it will be informed by the programme of action of the new prime minister.

“Whereas Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) understands complexities that have recently characterised political landscape of our country, the Centre wants to appeal to all roles players to be careful of any possible economic repercussions inherent in transition which has been stimulated by prime minister’s announcement on his resignation as Head of His Majesty’s Government,” the TRC says in its Friday statement. The statement is titled: ‘Postpone budget speech, prioritise government stabilisation and accelerate succession process in order to stop political and economic uncertainties hurting development’.

“Concerned that there is no indication of consensus among stakeholders both at prime minister’s party level and national assembly multi party level on selection of the next prime minister, the nation and international community hitherto have been held on suspense for a very long time without a reasonably justification… TRC calls for budget speech to be postponed until there are efforts in place to facilitate stabilisation of government and installation of a new prime minister.

“Stressing that the budget speech dated 26th February 2020 should be delayed until government attains stability. Although the incumbent prime minister for quite a number of times has public declare his waning strength to continue running the government, there is also a belief that the presentation of the budget will be promoting corruption and maladministration of the public resources whilst the head of government is endlessly helpless without authority and control of the state affairs.

“…Why should we continue to prepare a budget speech that is not informed by programme of action of new prime minister, particularly in this kind of situation where there is instability emanating from the prolonged resignation period of the prime minister including subsequent transition that has been created to satisfy egos and ulterior motives of politicians?”

The TRC said while it was time for the national budget estimates to be presented in parliament for approval, there were perceptions that the instability within the ABC may lead to a situation where the budget was not being approved by the house “because of its legitimacy deficit”

The TRC also said since Dr Majoro was a prime ministerial hopeful, his budget speech could also be seen by some as part of the “experimentation of his premiership aspirations just like other candidates who are also canvassing to succeed the incumbent prime minister”.

“The TRC recommends that all role players, be it the government or opposition that they should address the challenge of instability as a collective and deploy the best strategies to alleviate the tensions and confrontations prevailing at different political levels. There is no urgency to present 2020/2021 budget before the incumbent prime minister resignation is swiftly concluded. Subsequently there must be an assurance that operations and functions of government are not disrupted…,” the TRC said.


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