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Treasury admits to usurping Parliament on De Beers loan

Publishing Date : 15 October, 2018

Author : TSAONE SEGAETSHO

Accountant General Emma Peloetletse revealed that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning bypassed Parliament when sourcing a P1 billion loan for De Beers during the recessionary phase which nearly collapsed the mining sector few years ago.


Peloetletse said this before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) after Bonnington South legislator Ndaba Gaolatlhe asked about the process used to facilitate the loan. The accountant general revealed that due process was not followed.
“The honest truth us that the De Beers wanted stimulus but did not follow the right process to get it. The right process should have been going to Parliament. It (loan) should have been ratified or approved by Parliament, but that process was not followed,” said Peloetletse.


Gaolatlhe commended the accountant general of taking the blame after doing something unprocedural, saying this should not be a norm or a trend. He said this was not the first time something like this happened in government, citing Water Utilities Corporation as an example of what “caused a discomfort at the time.


Gaolatlhe also asked the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning its intentions on ints investment on De Beers given the advent of artificial diamond. The legislator said at this time of Botswana still assessing its partnership with De Beers, it is worth knowing about the rising phenomenon of synthetic diamonds.


The rise of artificial diamonds is believed to be a major threat on natural diamonds and some fear economies which are dependent on diamond production like Botswana will suffer in the long run when the world stops digging for diamonds from the ground and start manufacturing them in laboratories. The biggest diamond producer in the world, a partner to Botswana in diamond production and sales, has announced in the middle of this that it is also venturing heavily on artificial diamonds after taking years raising crusades to campaign against man made diamonds.


“Even though I do not intend to speak for the ministry of minerals I can just say we are aware of the competitive stage that we are in. It should be noted that our investment on De Beers also cuts across artificial diamonds. However this does not take away the fact that what we produce is original. We should cherish our original diamonds. What is original is original,” said Peloetletse.


Also at the same PAC when the finance ministry’s accounts were being perused, a lot of irregularities were picked up and members of parliament took turns to pour scorns on this country’s purse custodian. Specially Elected MP Mephato Reatile found a disturbing occurrence when looking into revenue results as according to him the treasury’s planning and forecasting leaves a lot to desire. 


It was disappointing for Reatile for the ministry whose responsibility is to take care of the public purse to fail to predict economic climate by underestimating what it is going to collect. For example, Reatile said, the ministry would budget P1 million only to receive P28 million. According to Reatile, this is what the ministry discourages but practices, a practice of financial hypocrisy.


According to the Mp, for the estimated P848 million budgeted on Bank of Botswana, P2.8 billion was collected and this shows a huge discrepancy by the treasury. This prompted apologies and admission of guilty on the part of secretary for Development and Budget in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Grace Muzila who said “we did not take note. We missed it (the discrepancy).”

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