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Parliament adopts motion to consider temporary staff

20 Nov 2023

Parliament has adopted an urgent motion requesting government to consider employing temporary staff to address the growing backlog of payments of supplies due to the operational challenges of the Government Accounting and Budgeting System (GABS).

Motivating the House to adopt the motion on Friday, Kanye North MP, Mr Thapelo Letsholo said it was a matter of public importance that had a had a bearing on the economic stability and livelihoods of the citizens.

Mr Letsholo said the urgency of the matter could not be overstated as it was at the centre of the society’s economic wellbeing and the livelihoods of countless citizens living on revenue generated through rendering service to government. .

“Many employees of companies and businesses that have supplied goods and services to government rely on their year-end payments to provide for their families during the festive season. The consequences of delayed payments are not limited to the business sector. They rip through communities affecting ordinary citizens’ ability to enjoy a dignified festive season,” said Mr Letsholo.

The GABS started malfunctioning in August, delaying payments of invoices, the gravity of the matter was underscored by the fact that government had not provided a clear indication as to when the issue would be finally resolved. 

“This motion therefore urges government to engage temporary employees to assist in clearing the backlog of unpaid invoices by December 20,” he said.

Mr Letsholo said ministries were grappling with a substantial backlog, some estimated to have over 6 000 unpaid invoices. 

He said the numbers were not just mere statistics as they represent the livelihoods of individuals and families affected.

 The delayed payments do not only cause harm to businesses but also disrupt public services and the ability of government to execute projects in the entire country, he said.

In the interim, while working on normalising the system, Mr Letsholo said it was important to revert to the old-school way of doing business by making payments manually to ensure that suppliers were paid accordingly.

Supporting the motion and adding to its urgency, Minister of Finance, Ms Peggy Serame said it took a legislator to raise a hand, urging for action to be taken to remedy the situation. 

Ms Serame agreed that it was critical to engage in a short-term measure that would ensure that outstanding invoices were cleared by December 20.

She concurred that delayed payments had negative consequences on companies, employees and the general public. 

Ms Serame also added that some companies also depended on the delayed payments to service loans and therefore were at risk of attracting interest. Ms Serame said GABS, started experiencing challenges on August 11, some 592 complaints were received until November 16, with 526 relating to delayed payments.

Minister Serame said the 34 revenue offices across the country and the Gaborone banking section had a staff complement of 270 revenue collectors, who were given authority to work beyond stipulated times to push the backlog.

Therefore, she urged other ministries to extend working hours and engage additional staff in order to speed up clearing the backlog.

Meanwhile, Maun West MP, Mr Dumelang Saleshando said it was important to ensure that companies and individuals were paid on time for service rendered.

He said the GABS problem was never associated with shortage of workers and that it was not necessary for the Ministry of Finance to seek the authority of Parliament for it to engage temporary employees or any measure that would improve payments of suppliers and service providers.

Leader of the House, Mr Slumber Tsogwane said the motion must be treated as urgent as it was focused on productivity. “We must own up and focus on solving the problem at hand. Issues of lack of supervision and laxity of some employees might also worsen the problem,” he said. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Moshe Galeragwe

Location : GABORONE

Event : Parliament

Date : 20 Nov 2023