PRESIDENT Hifikepunye Pohamba is to get a salary increase for the first time in seven years. Prime Minister Nahas Angula on Tuesday motivated the 'Presidential Remuneration and other Benefits Bill' in the National Assembly. Until mid-2001, the Head of State earned about N$2,1 million in total gross earnings per year, which included fringe benefits, such as exemption from paying tax.
This is broken down as N$1,68 million in cash and N$419 177 in non-cash earnings per year. The President's basic salary is about N$692 465 a year.
The President's remuneration had in the past been decided on an ad-hoc basis by the Cabinet and there was no legal framework.
The Bill states that the President's salary should be no more than 10% to 15% higher than that of the Prime
Minister, which is said to be standard practice in South Africa, Kenya, Botswana and Australia.
Angula's salary currently stands at N$1,25 million, made up of N$720 174 in cash and N$538 999 in non-cash earnings per year.
The Bill, which Angula said is a product of an "independent study", also seeks to "appreciate" the role of the First Lady, Penehupifo Pohamba, by paying her an allowance.
Currently, the First Lady receives an annual allowance of N$60 000, a yearly entertainment allowance of N$50 000, in addition to other benefits.
If the Bill is approved, the First Lady's allowance will be equivalent to the annual salary of a Deputy Permanent Secretary - a gross annual salary and benefits of N$611 582.
The Bill also addresses the issue of the President's medical aid, savings and post-retirement housing benefits.
"Benefits and allowances which are payable under the Bill once it is passed into law will come from the State Revenue Fund out of money appropriated by Parliament," Angula said.
Angula also motivated that a Former Presidents' Pension and Other Benefits Amendment Bill be adopted. This Bill is a follow-up of the Former Presidents' Pension and Other Benefits Act which was passed by Parliament in 2004, and will in all likelihood start with Pohamba, as founding President Sam Nujoma was given a salary for life.
Pohamba is currently serving his second term as President.
A clause in the bill states that "a former President is entitled to be paid a gratuity in an amount equal to the annual salary which was payable to such President immediately before ceasing to hold office for each term served as President".
With the President's current basic salary at about N$692 465 a year, it means that he will get at least twice that amount after having served two terms.
The clause recognises the fact that there might be a one-term President in future, according to Angula.
Under this Bill, Pohamba, and future presidents, will continue to be covered by the State's medical scheme after retirement, receive a furnished official residence anywhere in Windhoek, be eligible for telephone, water and electricity allowances, and have two domestic workers, two gardeners, two cooks, two waiters and two laundry persons. They will also be the beneficiaries of three vehicles, for which the cost of fuel and maintenance will be borne by the State.
Former President Sam Nujoma already receives all these benefits.
In deciding the size of the property, Angula said a number of factors had been taken into account - such as staff members who must continue to serve a former President, namely security personnel, domestic staff, drivers and traffic personnel.
"All these will be expected to use some of the facilities in the residence. In addition, State property such as vehicles will need to be kept in a secure environment such as closed garages," he said.
Angula appealed for amendments to this Bill not to be viewed as "an action intended to benefit an individual, but as an exercise to promote transparency and good practices".