Rebuttal of Articles by the Sunday Standard of the 22-28, February 2015 and Mmegi Newspaper of 24th February, 2015
The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning would like to categorically state that there is absolutely no truth in the reports that Cabinet or the Minister of Finance and Development Planning has made a decision to cut the budget by one per cent after it was approved by parliament or officially presented to Parliament.
The gravity of the allegations contained in the articles entitled: “Botswana faces legislative crisis following Cabinet budget goof” by Sunday Standard Newspaper of 22-28 February 2015, and “Matambo faces MPs on bungle” in the Mmegi Newspaper of the 24th February 2015, which were followed by a Parliamentary Question No. 339 by Honourable Dr P. Butale, MP (Gaborone Central), are not only intended to cast aspersions on the integrity of the Government of Botswana in general, and the Ministry, in particular but are also meant to misled the public.
As the Honourable Minister of Finance and Development O.K. Matambo indicated in his statement to Parliament on the 24th February, 2015, neither “Cabinet nor the Minister of Finance and Development Planning directed that there should be a cut on the 2015/16 Government budget by one percent after it was approved by Parliament or officially presented to Parliament”. No alterations or changes were made either to the Draft Estimates of Expenditure from the Consolidated and Development Funds or the Appropriation (2015/2016) Bill, No. 1 of 2015 following their submission to Parliament.
With regard to the Savingram by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development addressed to Town Clerks and Council Secretaries, a meeting was convened by the Speaker and attended by concerned parties including Hon. Dr. P. Butale to discuss the matter.
In that meeting, the Permanent Secretary explained that his Savingram was an internal communication in which he was advising Town Clerks and Council Secretaries of decisions that had been taken by the Government during the process of preparing the budget, and not after the budget had been submitted to Parliament as alleged in the newspaper reports. The explanation provided by the Permanent Secretary was appreciated by all present at the meeting.
Subsequently, Honourable Minister Matambo presented a statement to Parliament on the 25th February 2015 to reconfirm the fact that the said Savingram, despite its date of 9th February 2015, was an internal communication to provide feedback to Local Authorities on the budget preparation process, before the Draft 2015/16 Estimates of Expenditure from the Consolidated and Development Funds was finalized and laid before the National Assembly on the 7th January 2015, and the presentation of the Appropriation (2015/2016) Bill, No. 1 of 2015 to the National Assembly on the 2nd February 2015.
It is not the habit of the Ministry to respond to every newspaper article pertaining to its operations. As a matter of fact, the Ministry believes in the role of the media to inform and educate the public on financial and economic issues, as this contributes towards the delivery of its mandate. However, we are compelled to react this time because of the gravity of the misinformation in the newspaper reports.