By Patience Nyangove
GOVERNMENT has frozen the filling of any civil service vacancies this year in a bid to raise at least N$750 million needed in drought relief aid to urgently feed nearly 600 000 people-approximately a quarter of the country’s population, Confidente has learnt.
Confidente can also reveal that as part of stringent fiscal consolidation measures Government through the Ministry of Finance now requires ministries to formulate monthly budgets where they outline what they intend to use the requested money for before Treasury approves and subsequently releases the funds to the ministries.
These measures come hot on the heels of another Government decision in June to slash the national budget by 7.4 percent which translates to N$4.9 billion from the N$67 billion national budget barely three months after it was presented. The Ministry of Finance has also cut the projected 2017/18 national budget by 3.1 percent. Government said the budget cuts are a necessary evil as the country needs to learn to live within its means amid a volatile economic climate
Treasury blames among other things macro-economic factors like a weaker currency, low revenue from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and poor performance of economies of the behind the volatile economic conditions. country’s major trading partners as the major driving force
Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein confirmed to Confidente, Monday of the new measures which are said to have shaken most ministries who in the past have been rightly accused of splashing or diverting tax payers’ money from its intended purposes.
“All funded vacant positions in Government have been frozen in-order for us to be able to raise money to fund the drought relief so we will not be able to proceed with any recruitment. As Government we have to mobilise resources to feed our people affected by the drought. Most vacant positions will not be filled this year,” Schlettwein said.
Namibia like other countries in the Sadc region is battling a severe El-Nino induced drought. The situation is particularly severe in rural areas where thousands of people will need Government intervention to cope with the effects of drought during the 2016/2017 financial year.
The effects of the poor short rains received in the country have also resulted in farmers countrywide losing their livestock.
It was recently reported that farmers in the Erongo region lost a combined income of N$10 million since November 2015 to date. The estimated 6 000 farmers lost on average 1 318 cattle, 2 483 goats, 3 252 sheep and 26 horses.
On the issue of treasury releasing money to ministries on a monthly basis, Schlettwein said the measures were introduced in-order to control when and how ministries spend.
“Ministries must now indicate to treasury what they intend to use funds for before the money is released. We have introduced month to month loading of funds to ministries whereby they indicate to us what they want to use the money for first before the funds are released. These measures have been introduced to regulate when and how we spend within government. It has been a tough year and we need to match what we spend with our budget. We are trying to avoid spending blindly,” Schlettwein said.
As part of the stringent measures, Schlettwein added that his ministry had put a stop to all non-essential trips by civil servants.
“We have stopped all unnecessary travels. Some ministries have already exhausted their S&T budgets and have tried to shift from other operational expenses to S&T and Treasury has rejected this,” he said.
Last year Prime-Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila warned civil servants against using Government as their cash cow through S&T and overtime claims after revelations that S&T claims of the civil service are expected to increase from N$590 million to N$760 million.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015