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PAC questions ministry about P125million transfer to covid-19 fund

ANSWERING THE TOUGH QUESTIONS: Thuso Ramodimoosi
ANSWERING THE TOUGH QUESTIONS: Thuso Ramodimoosi

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Thuso Ramodimoosi was at pains this week to explain to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) how P125 million was moved from the ministry’ Special Fund to the Covid-19 Fund.

Members of PAC chaired by Member of Parliament (MP) for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse expressed concern that the transfer of the funds from the Special Fund is tantamount to violation of the Fund Order.

It emerged during the Ministry’s appearance before the Committee on Wednesday that a sum of P125 million was transferred from Ministry’s Special Fund and deposited into the Covid-19 Fund in March last year.

The transfer is said to have been authorized by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

However, the Committee was of the view that this violates the Fund Order, and was seeking to find out the law that permits the finance minister, the President, or any other entity for that matter to authorise the transfer of money from the special funds.

The Special Fund within the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development was set up to, among others things; address a shortage of accommodation in the country.

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“To my understanding, funds from Special Funds cannot be withdrawn for purposes of what the Fund was not set up for. This is where the problem is with government money and we need to close those gaps,” said Francistown South MP and member of PAC, Wynter Mmolotsi.

Mmolotsi further expressed disappointment in the handling of the Special Funds by the government, saying it was said before that this would never happen again after money from the National Disaster Fund was diverted to establish the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS).

The MP said from the P125 million, one could only imagine how many Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA) houses, which cost around P90, 000 would have been built.

Bobonong MP, Taolo Lucas concurred that tempering with Special Funds is a clear violation of the Fund Order.

Meanwhile, PAC expressed concern regarding the implementation of national projects by the ministry, which causes the country to lose millions of Pulas through construction projects and litigations and disputes arising from such projects.

PAC Chairman, Keorapetse put it to Ramodimoosi that other ministries are blaming the Infrastructure and Housing Development ministry because it is the one responsible for project implementation.

In response, Ramodimoosi said the problem could lie with both the contractor and the client, but said a decision was made around 2016/2017 to decentralize projects worth P100 million and below to be overseen by respective ministries

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