13 February 2018

Namibia: NTB Bemoans Govt Underfunding

Photo: Travis Lupick
The dry Sossusvlei clay pan. Shot in Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia.

Namibia Tourism Board chairperson Paul Brinkmann last week bemoaned government underfunding, which he said led to cost-cutting measures like keeping posts vacant in the hope of reducing the para-stastal's N$25 million wage bill.

He said the NTB still has to cut costs, despite progress made in turning the entity around into becoming self-sufficient.

Brinkmann was speaking in an interview with The Namibian following revelations that the environment and tourism ministry had ordered an investigation into the entity.

The ministry's investigation, which sidelined the board, was carried out due to prevailing negative reports in the media about the NTB's operations.

Some of the investigations which the environment and tourism ministry is looking into include millions pumped into the Kora musical awards' show that never took place, N$50 000 paid in inflated S&Ts, as well as more than half-a-million dollars that went into contracts with Brinkmann's unregistered company last year.

Brinkmann said they were due to get N$50 million for the 2015 financial year, but only got N$17 million, while the 2017 budget allocation was N$10 million instead of the N$20 million they were supposed to get.

His comments were based on his institutional memory, having served on the previous board as a private sector representative.

Brinkmann said in the next financial year, they expect to receive around N$10 million as well, but despite the underfunding, the NTB has managed to become self-sufficient.

The NTB's revenue is made up of government grants, levies and interest. "The NTB managed to increase its levy collection from roughly N$20 million in 2015 to N$23 million in 2016, and N$40 million in 2017, a figure they hope to achieve and possibly slightly surpass this year, ending March 2018. This means the NTB as an institution has managed to become self-financing for 80% of its operations," he stated.

According to him, this is work by the industry services department and finance in getting registered businesses to pay, and constantly following up. "It is also partially the success of great marketing and the growth of the industry," he noted.

Brinkmann said the entity, despite challenges such as the inability to fill vacant posts due to finances and an inability to make ends meet, has managed to raise its revenue.

"Currently, the main challenge as an institution is making ends meet. An allocation of N$10 million by government does not go a long way as the wage bill alone exceeds N$25 million a year," said Brinkmann.

"That means some positions must remain vacant as we do not have the necessary funds to fill them. In a nutshell, our greatest challenge is money," he stated.

Brinkmann added that staff at the NTB are their own worst enemy because they spend too much time and energy undermining the institution, instead of defending it.

Meanwhile, the Namibia Public Workers Union's secretary general, Peter Nevonga, expressed happiness last week that the environment and tourism ministry was investigating the NTB, and said he could only comment once the findings of the investigation have been communicated to them.

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