…Ministers in a financial fix due to budget cuts
By Patience Nyangove
A majority of Cabinet Ministers say they cannot meet targets in their performance agreements they signed two years ago with President Hage Geingob due to the severe ministerial budget cuts made last year by Treasury that have severely affected their operations, Confidente has learnt.
Ministers signed agreements in October 2015 that had specific targets against which their performance is assessed -a change from the norm where it was especially difficult for the public to measure their performances.
Minister of Education, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said the budget cuts had severely affected her performance as her ministry had been forced to cut its operational and capital budgets and therefore she can’t deliver on her targets to construct more classrooms, schools and teachers’ accommodation quarters in the regions within the agreed time frame.
“The cuts are badly affecting our performance agreement. Whatever we promised it’s now difficult for us to deliver on,” she said.
Hanse-Himarwa added that daily the number of children being enrolled in school keeps on increasing which translates to a high demand for schools, teachers and their accommodation.
Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta without elaborating said his performance has absolutely been affected by the budget cuts.
“Definitely it will affect (performance agreement) if you have your budget cut by half or more than half,” Shifeta said.
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Frans Kapofi, said although the budget cuts had significantly affected his performance he will soldier on to ensure that all set goals are realised.
“We will have to try and do whatever is possible. We will try to survive this drought (negative economic situation). If there is a drought in the management of the country we will find ways to survive it,” an optimistic Kapofi said.
However the Minister of Trade and Industry, Immanuel Ngatjizeko, had a different view. He said although the financial crunch had affected his ministry it was not severe as it is only expenses like overtime and subsistence and travel allowance mostly affected.
“Of course one will be naturally affected and won’t be able to implement everything planned however to a large extent we achieved what we planned. These budget cuts might have affected things like overtime and S&T and to me it was time to reduce those expenses.
“We have managed to realise our major projects,” Ngatjizeko said.
Minister of Safety and Security, Charles Namoloh, also revealed to Confidente that the budget cuts had not spared him and his ministerial targets as well although not all of their targets have been affected.
“It’s a challenge for us but we have to cope with the little that we have. However it will not affect all our targets because now we are prioritising on matters like combating crime but it’s also difficult for us to do so with inadequate manpower and without the necessary crime fighting equipment. We can’t recruit as well,” Namoloh said.
The Minister of Public Enterprises, Leon Jooste while acknowledging that the budget cuts had a negative effect on ministers’ performances said as ministers it was their responsibility to ensure they deliver by thinking outside the box or working around obstacles.
“There’s no way that anyone can argue that budget cuts will not have a negative effect on performance. Our job as ministers is to be more creative and to identify ways to mitigate the negative effects and still deliver maximum results despite the challenges.”
The Minister of Economic Planning and Director General of the National Planning Commission, Tom Alweendo said his performance has not been affected by the budget cuts because his ministry does not implement projects.
“For us as NPC we are not affected. We don’t implement any projects but we come up with projects that are implemented by other ministries,” he said.
Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein while admitting that it will be difficult for Ministers to meet their targets due to lack of funds appealed to his colleagues to prioritise the little funds they have.
“If resources are not enough then there is need to prioritise within the means available. We need to get to a situation where you do a little bit more with less,” he said.
The country has been experiencing a turbulent economic climate since last year due to a weaker currency, low revenue from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and poor performance of economies of the country’s major trading partners among other reasons which led to Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein barely three months after he presented the 2016/17 national budget, to slash the budget by 7.4 percent.
The Ministry of Finance then also cut the projected 2017/18 budget by 3.1 percent.
Schlettwein told Confidente last year that the budget cuts were a necessary evil as the country needs to learn to live within its means amid a volatile economic situation.
“As a responsible Government, the natural reaction was to review the budget and do the necessary adjustments where it is necessary. Having the above mentioned macro-economic patterns, the indicative total expenditure ceilings for 2016/17 and 2017/18 financial years needed to be revised downwards for the purpose of yielding a deficit level that is commensurate with sustainable financing and keep it within a 5.0 percent tolerable levels.
“This is a measure of fiscal consolidation and had to be done to help the Government maintain sustainable fiscal prudence. These reductions are done in a way that there will be no material impact on the Government’s development agenda, service delivery and economic growth objectives. The overall indicative budget ceilings for 2016/17 and 2017/18 financial years were revised downwards by 7.4 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively,” Schlettwein said.
International credit rating agencies like Moody’s and Fitch have revised Namibia’s economic outlook from stable to negative pending an evaluation of Government’s fiscal consolidation regime.
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila had not responded to questions send to her via text message on what happens in the event where Ministers are not able to meet their goals due to circumstances beyond their own making.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015