By Marianne Nghidengwa
THE Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) has drastically cut, by nearly 80 percent its overtime expenditure from a whopping N$230 million to N$50 million, Confidente has learnt.
This translates to savings amounting to N$180 million after the ministry under the leadership of Dr Benhard Haufiku took effective steps to curb widespread abuse of overtime allowances and other unnecessary expenditure following treasury cuts on Government’s budget. The cuts are part of fiscal measures taken in the face of a global economic meltdown that has seen the Namibian dollar weakening against major currencies and dwindling revenue from the Southern among other factors. African Customs Union (SACU)
In an exclusive interview with Confidente Tuesday, Haufiku said that treasury cut N$300 million from his ministry’s budget which led to tighter controls of the ministry’s limited resources to stay afloat and render mandatory services.
“The budget cuts affected the entire set-up of government and we are no different. You know, N$300 million was cut from our budget and this simply teaches us to do better with little. We looked at areas where we could possibly cut costs. We managed to cut overtime claims by 78 percent going from N$230 million to N$50 million. These were overtime claims for the last half of 2016 and the current financial year on wards,” Haufiku said.
Reports in recent times exposed a longstanding trend of overtime abuse, especially among civil servants.
Haufiku added that other measures include doctors travelling to district hospitals as opposed to patients transported to Windhoek as well as staff members buying their own newspapers.
“I for instance do not have an advisor. The ministry has not spend on paying an advisor since late last year. I have one driver and I buy my own newspaper. Before, the ministry bought hundreds of newspapers for staff members but they are now expected to buy their own newspapers. We are also cutting down on transportation. Each doctor is expected to perform duties out of Windhoek as opposed to having patients transported from district hospitals to Windhoek to receive medical attention,” Haufiku said.
Further measures Haufiku added include the reducing of outsourcing cleaning services saying there is a system in place that works equally well. “We haven’t completely stopped the outsourcing of cleaning services but we do have a system in place, for instance at Katutura State Hospital that works well. We have to be mean, lean and clean.”
Apart from the health ministry, other government departments in recent times revealed that the slashed budget crippled their operations. Still, Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein said the budget cuts are a necessary evil as the country needs to learn to live within its means amid a volatile economic situation.
Amongst those heavily affected is the Namibian Police. The force’s Inspector General, Sebastian Ndeitunga in an interview with Confidente late last year said that the force will not recruit any cadets due to a severe cut of its operational budget.
Confidente at the time also established that Nampol for the next three years will not be able to purchase a single vehicle due to the cash crunch. On top of that, Nampol has to put on-hold construction of its regional headquarters in nine regions as a result of the budget cuts. Its plans to construct accommodation for police officers has also been put on hold.
“We are not buying a single car and that on its own is threatening to hamper our operations because these cars are used daily so you can imagine the wear and tear. We are also not going to recruit police cadets this year. “We have to share the little resources that are there and we are grateful to Government for what it has given us although we require more.”
At the time, Schlettwein assured that the budget cuts are not expected to impact negatively the service delivery and achievement of Government’s mandate. “On purchasing of vehicles, shortage of transport has been an issue on police for the past years. It was on that basis that the Government had positively responded to the public outcry on that matter where the budget for vehicles under police in 2015/16 financial year was increased five times the budget of 2012/13 and 2014/15, respectively. For 2015/16 police managed to procure a total 658 vehicles as additional to the fleet.
“The aim to increase such budget allocation was to address the fleet challenges faced by the police department. It is solely the responsibility of each O/M/A to prioritise its activities to fit within the available ceiling and the Namibian police has been doing that in its quest to address the shortage of vehicles as well as the recruitment to their force.”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015