Lesotho M50 million COVID-19 unpaid debt
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By Mamello Mosaefane
The Ministry of Health has incurred debts to the tune of M50 million that Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s Cabinet Department is now arguing were incurred irregularly without due process being followed when debts are payable.
Principal Secretary of Cabinet Department, Kabelo Lehora, in a press briefing this week said payments owed to companies who provided services to the ministry of health on COVID-19 related procurement worth M50 million are suspended as he denied allegations, he is the one withholding payments.
Lehora said he has been receiving fuming visitors in his office demanding payments for the services they have provided to the ministry of health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the services and goods supplied to the ministry of health include among other catering companies, quarantine centers, and Personal Protective Equipment providers.
However, Lehora emphasized that while the ministry of health had no right to offer such services without consulting his Cabinet Department, the M50 million debts are being looked into.
Lehora disclosed that internal audits have resumed and as soon as they are done, the reports will be looked into in order to figure out what has to be done for the service provider to get paid.
The ministry of health, according to Lehora, did not follow proper procedures in offering tenders on procurement relating to COVID-19 and the ministry of health officials refused to collaborate closely with the Cabinet Department on procurement amid the payments to be made from funds in the custody of the Prime Minister’s Office.
“No ministry should offer jobs without going through the cabinet, as it is the one with funding.
“The money owed to the service providers amounts to an estimation of M50 Million”, of which Lehora said some of the business owners are making death threats; saying he is the one withholding their payments by not signing through the required authorizing documents.
He further revealed that some business people have been contacting any persons named Lehora that they happen to have their contact details, demanding for payments when they could not reach him.
He said the money is however expected to be above M50 Million as some of the invoices have not been issued by the service providers yet, and the ministry of health continues to autonomously offer tenders without consulting his Cabinet Department.
Ministry of health Chief information Officer, Tumisang Mokoai, did not give a reply as to why the ministry refused to work with the cabinet, but rather emphasised that the matter is being looked into by the Principal Secretaries.
Mokoai said the cabinet and the ministry of health Principal Secretaries are expected to have a resolution by end of the week to the impasse on M50 million COVID-19 debts.
Mokoai also mentioned that it is very unfortunate that the concerned business owners have gotten into debts that they cannot pay while the government departments are is engaging in disagreements.