By Confidente Reporter
SEVERAL accountants in the Ministry of Works and Transport have reportedly been cashing in an estimated N$50 000 in monthly overtime claims a move that has prompted the Auditor General’s office to launch an investigation into the rampant abuse of state resources.Sources privy to the matter told Confidente that the rife abuse of scarce Government funds has reportedly been going on since 2013 with some accountants clocking in between N$200 000 and N$500 000 annually in overtime.
Although the AG, Junias Kandjeke, was evasive about the matter when contacted for comment on Tuesday, Confidente is reliably informed that the Works Ministry was issued with an audit query to establish how overtime of certain individuals ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“I am not ready to give information on news related matters because I deal with facts,” Kandjeke said. Asked whether he was confirming or denying the issuance of an audit query to the ministry, Kandjeke could not say.
Sources told Confidente that the accountants make about N$220 per hour in overtime on weekends and on public holidays working from 8 a.m. to midnight, adding that some mostly spent their time reading newspapers and magazines, surfing the internet or otherwise relaxing at their desks.
“Overtime is intended to be used only when an employee’s hours are not sufficient to complete their heavy workload but more often, none of those that have been smiling all the way to the bank claiming high amounts in overtime met that requirement,” a source said.
The sources said that such abuse of overtime allowance is a violation of the public trust and a gross waste of limited Government funds.
To make matters worse, the sources added that the ministry amid the controversy approved overtime for the months of September and October despite financial managers having reportedly advised against the approval.
“We don’t understand how the ministry could approve the overtime given the abuse of the allowance over the years. Government through the Ministry of Finance also advised cutting costs in the areas of overtime and S&T. Since 2013 or even longer, several accountants have been smiling all the way to the bank working until midnight and claiming overtime fees. Even when it was not necessary to work or when they are not doing any work at all, they would still sit at the office,” the source added.
Sources said that there was a need for the ministry to take effective steps to curb the abuse by revising the system that ensures fair compensation for employees who are legitimately working overtime.
Contacted for comment, minister Alpheus !Naruseb said that he was not briefed about the matter as he has been out of the country since September 24 and only returned to office on Tuesday.
He referred questions to the ministry’s accounting officer, permanent secretary Willem Goeieman. Goeieman however declined to comment saying he was on sick leave at the time of going to print.
The Works Ministry has also been at the centre of controversy recently when earlier this year Goeieman allegedly irregularly altered the ministry’s Tender Committee recommendations that Oshipe Turnkey be awarded the N$1 billion contract for the construction of the Prime Minister’s building and instead forwarded Babyface Civils to the Tender Board. Babyface Civils is owned by Vaino Nghipondoka and for the Prime Minister’s office project his company teamed up with a Chinese firm China Jiangxi International.
The explosive revelations according to sources are said to be contained in a Ministry of Works and Transport report. The sources added that the report is now with the Deputy Minister of Works, James Sankwasa.
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