30 November 2012

Namibia: Only Hard Work Justifies Higher Salaries

FOR the past three years, the salary bill of the Ministry of Education has made up 62% of its expenditure, while only 7% went into its development budget, which includes research.

The trend was the same for the Ministry of Health and Social Services, where salaries constituted 42% of all expenses, while 14% of expenditure was geared towards its development budget, Deputy Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the opening of the SADC Remuneration Commissions’ conference in Swakopmund, Schlettwein said Namibia ranked among the top ten countries in Africa which prioritised education and health budgets.

“These sectors are accorded the topmost priority as enhancers for growth and development,” he said.

Despite its massive budget allocations, the ministry’s results have “generally been opaque and a cause of concern for national competitiveness and progress”, Schlettwein said.

“While access to general education has improved by leaps and bounds, the expenditure review conducted in the education sector revealed that more money per se does not buy success as far as quality outcomes is concerned.”

Variations in personnel expenditure per pupil call for more interrogation of the teacher payroll, he said.

Schlettwein said the call for better salaries and conditions of service in the public sector was “not an end in itself”. Fair rewards should be based on improved productivity and efficient service delivery, he said.

“Namibia has a particular problem of labour productivity which continues to weigh on the country’s global competitiveness,” he said.

With the recent increase of 8% in civil servants’ salaries, Government will have to use 44% of its revenue for 2012-13 to fund its staff bill. For the current financial year, the public salary bill constitutes 41% of total government expenditure.

In contrast, South Africa will use 42% of its revenue for the current financial year to pay civil servants, while Botswana will use 32%, Schlettwein said.

In Namibia, government renumeration stands at about 14% of the gross domestic product, compared to 10,5% in South Africa and 11,4% in Botswana, he said.

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