Lesotho Finance Minister Dr. Moeketsi Majoro has passed 2019/20 Financial Budget Estimates that gave a zero increase to public servants and tough austerity measures cutting across all sectors.
The budget comes amid fears that some disgruntled members of the ruling party, supported by some opposition members, were plotting to block the budget estimates in protest to the ‘disputed results’ of the ruling party’s National Election Committee.
Basotho’s days of cheaper fuel are soon coming to an end. This follows a hefty increase on fuel and other alcoholic beverages levies, as the government seeks to improve revenue collection, which will lead to a significant economic recovery.
“These recoveries reflect additional revenue measures including a 30% levy on tobacco, a 15% levy on the sale of alcohol, a 30% per litre in the fuel levy and 0.5% increase in the domestic tax levy,” Dr. Majoro said.
Majoro says unless stringent austerity measures are put to place, the downward economic spiral can never be halted.
“Reduce the cost of foreign missions by reducing the number of foreign missions, and reviewing the formula by calculating salaries. Reduce the ministerial gross salaries by 5%. Eliminate an interest benefit on MP’s loans and the possibility of a write-off following midterm election.”
The finance minister says, despite a positive economic outlook, there are still tough times ahead.
“We therefore expect poor agricultural harvest this year, as a result, we therefore expect 491 000 people will require emergency food assistance in the coming months.”
A pretty complicated budget, one must say, but most hit is the foreign affairs ministry that has to take serious cuts in order to address challenges that the budget propose. Foreign Affairs Minister, Lesego Makgothi, says that they will do their best to ensure that they cut costs.
“We have to address these purely by ensuring that, as the minister has indicated, that we cut the delegation where there is a summit or conference that we have to attend as well as ensuring that whenever possible, we use our embassies abroad to actually represent us in terms of conferences and summits that we have to attend. I don’t think this only applies to foreign affairs only, it applies to all ministries; especially where you find that ministries attend summits in various countries like Italy, Europe and us. This is where our ministry will play a pivotal role in representing the government not entirely focusing on foreign affairs only.”
However, the opposition says the government does not have goodwill and that only a government of National Unity can implement a shared vision for Lesotho.
Former Deputy Prime Minister, Mothejoa Metsing, says that the measures taken by the minister were not respected before and they hope that this time, there will be political will from the government.
“But it is not for the first time that we hear of these measures taken by the minister, but they were not respected before. So we hope this time around, there will be a political will on the part of government.”
Some relief has come to the elderly, whose old age grants will drop from 70-60 years in the in the next two years, while the Mining sector, Wool and Mohair and fifty Cannabis license that have been issued are expected to yield positive spin to the ailing economy in the near future.
Great news from #Lesotho! 2019 budget includes commitment to reduce of eligibility age of Universal Old Age Pension from 70 to 60, while also increasing the transfer level @PensionWatch @HelpAgeAfrica @ILOAfrica @luisfrota_luis pic.twitter.com/qRfdW5RPge
— Florian Juergens (@FlorianJuergens) March 13, 2019
Government further hopes to tap onto Public Private Partnerships as the main engine for implementing large projects.
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