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Ambiguity of Covid-19 coffers

Mohloai Mpesi

The office of the Prime Minister says a total M341 million has been spent in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic since last year.

The Spokesperson in the Prime Minister’s office Mosito Moqhekoana told a media briefing in Maseru this week that the M341million was used to treat Covid-19 patients as well as on communication and transport of NACOSEC. He said the money was taken from the initial M698million which was approved by parliament and budgeted for the fight against the pandemic.

In that original budget, they were only given M403 514 64 million by the ministry of finance.    

“You will remember that we have the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) whose responsibility is inter alia, to address emerging disasters such as pandemics. There is a budget that was meant to finance the fight against Covid-19 until October 2020. The estimated budget was M698 million which was approved by parliament, of which M403 514 .64 million has been released by the finance ministry thus far and M341 848 40. 78 utilised,” said Moqhekoana.

He stood in the defense of the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) saying that the highly professed M1.5 Billion said to have been used by the Covid-19-fighting body was a fib.

“The M698million was estimated to end in October but until now we are still using that money. It is not true that NACOSEC has spent M1.5billion. The 1.5billion amount was a proposal, it has not been approved and has not gone to parliament,” he said.

He mentioned that they used 86% of the availed money to pay for medical purposes and salaries of hired health professionals as well as the temporary health practitioners. He further explained that in the remaining 14% of the funds they used the money to pay for salaries of NACOSEC, health professionals as well as on fuel and printing expenditure.    

He also stated that the difference between M341 848 40 78 million and M293 813 559 46, was used for transportation purposes as well as airtime.

“In M341 848 40 78 millions, 293 813 559 46 was used to pay the first aid which include treatment and also paying the quarantine centres, while the airtime and fuel expenditures were M259 628 707 84 million,” he said.

“86% of the money has been used to help the Covid-19 patients. This money has also been used to pay temporary and all time health practitioners. The remaining 14% was used to pay other health practitioners who are not under Ministry of Health, also including fuel and transport as well as printing expenditure,” he said.

Asked to produce a detailed and consolidated financial report, the Principal Secretary of Cabinet Economic Affairs, Kabelo Lehora said they will have to make a detailed report which elucidates the usage of the money.  

“NACOSEC is a branch that has been created for a short time under DMA. It does not use the government money,” he said.

“Now that the media wants us to have a written document of a detailed financial report, we will prepare the report so that it becomes available,” he said. “It will need financial expertise, to analyse how much each unit has spent, so that the nation knows how we have been using the money until today,” he said. sdpriority51 \

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