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Maseru
April 24, 2024
Parliament

BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION MARKS A SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE – MATLANYANE

Maseru, Feb. 21 — Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Dr. Ret’selisitsoe Matlanyane says this year marks a significant milestone in their history as a nation, a bicentennial celebration that symbolizes not only the passage of time but also the resilience and strength of their beloved nation.

Dr. Matlanyane said this during her presentation of the budget speech in the joint sitting of parliament at the new parliament building on Wednesday.

She said in commemoration of this historic milestone, they find themselves at a pivotal moment that calls for reflection on their past achievement and beckons them towards a future filled with promise and opportunity.

“It is against this backdrop that I present the budget for the fiscal year ahead, a budget that embodies a spirit of renewal, change and progress as we embark on a new chapter in our nation’s journey,” she underscored.

Dr. Matlanyane said this budget is not only a financial plan, but a testament to unwavering commitment to building a brighter and better future for the Nation.

She noted that it was a roadmap that outlines their collective vision of a next chapter of the nation’s story.

The Minister said a vision that is defined by prosperity, peace, social cohesion, and sustainable development, adding that it is therefore befitting that as they navigate the challenges and traverse the terrain ahead, they must draw inspiration from the resilience and determination of their forefathers who paved the way for them and embrace the values of unity, solidarity, peace, prosperity and forgiveness that have been the hallmark of their Nation’s identity.

“I urge us to seize this moment to pave a course towards a future that allows every Mosotho to thrive and prosper.

“Let our journey be a transformative one.  For the past 58 years, we have implemented a growth model that puts government at the centre of the economic development and failed to graduate to a private sector led growth and job generating framework,” she noted.

Dr. Matlanyane said they are witnesses that this model has not served them well, adding that the inevitable has caught up with them.

She said they are at a crossroad and that it was time for them to reinvent themselves and not only think but also do things differently.

As a young nation of only 200 years, she said they stand at the verge of immense possibilities and that they need to be not only aggressive and unapologetic about exploring and seizing emerging opportunities, but also excited about doing so.

With each passing year, the Minister said their potential grows and with it the chance to shape their destiny and that of future generations and build a better future.

She also requested to set the tone and elaborate on the theme of their upcoming 2024/2025 Budget.

‘The theme of this budget is “Building on Resilience, Working Together, and Fostering Sustainable and Fair Growth”, she highlighted.

 As a nation, she said they have faced struggles and overcome challenges, demonstrating their resilience over the two hundred (200) years of their existence.

However, Dr. Matlanyane said it was crucial that they enhance their collaboration, saying it was not the time for internal conflict or pursuing short-term gains.

‘We must unite, set aside our differences as we tackle the tasks of this day and age with the same courageous character that mimics that of our forefathers at their time’ she empathised.

In conclusion, Dr. Matlanyane said the financial policy statement, whilst it is important to have the wage bill reduced to acceptable levels, the Government recognises that comprehensive public sector reforms are necessary, which include improving the welfare of the staff and their capabilities to manage, lead and perform their technical work.

She said that they are in a tight fiscal situation in the medium-term, but despite this, the automatic notch increase will be accommodated which accounts for 2.5 percent plus 2 per cent salary adjustment across the board.

Dr. Matlanyane said the tax credit and the tax brackets will be adjusted accordingly and that in the same spirit, the Old Age Pension will be adjusted by 50 Maloti and that these adjustments will be effective from  April 01, 2024.

This year’s budget presentation was disrupted for almost an hour and the Speaker of the National Assembly was forced to suspend the day’s business after Leader of opposition Mr. Mathibeli Mokhothu questioned the order paper which showed that they would be a general business despite being the joint sitting in which some members of the Upper House were present.

Upon the resumption of the business, Mr. Sekhamane ordered the members of the Upper House to temporarily leave the house to allow members of the National Assembly to deal with the general business of the house before the joint sitting in which the presentation of the budget speech was scheduled to take place.

The suspension of the day’s business allowed mainly opposition party members to play their political parties songs and danced in the full presence of the invited guests that included international diplomatic missions in Lesotho as well as international donors.

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