19 February 2018

Namibia: It's Not Business As Usual - !naruseb

Newly appointed minister of agriculture Alpheus !Naruseb has urged employees at his ministry to adhere to cost-cutting measures introduced by the Office of the Prime Minister.

!Naruseb, who swapped portfolios with counterpart John Mutorwa in a recent Cabinet reshuffle, made the remarks during his welcoming ceremony at the agriculture ministry on Thursday.

Mutorwa is now works and transport minister.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila introduced stricter measures aimed at reducing the cost of running the public service in the next three years.

These include proposals aimed at limiting foreign travel to two trips per year for civil servants, to control the abuse of state vehicles, uprooting ghost workers, and cracking down on wastage by using emails instead of paper.

The Prime Minister also revealed that government wants to control the escalating costs of maintaining the bloated public service.

The Namibian reported last month that government spent about 40% of the national budget on personnel expenditure, which represents salaries and other related benefits for public servants, during the 2015/16 financial year.

The paper also reported last year that budget projections for the next two years are that the public wage bill is expected to increase by about N$800 million.

This week, President Hage Geingob urged parliamentarians to engage in debates to find solutions to the high rate of travels by politicians and civil servants.

During Thursday's event, deputy agriculture minister Anna Shiweda revealed that the ministry has about 5 500 approved positions (staff establishment), of which 3 687 were already filled, while under 2 000 are vacant.

She added that despite financial constraints, the ministry would fill some of the critical positions during the next three years. The agriculture ministry currently has three deputy permanent secretaries.

Shiweda added that the ministry was also experiencing difficulties in meeting the increasing demand for its services to farmers, because the "financial resources available remain relatively low".

!Naruseb said he will not "reinvent" the strategies and ministerial policies already put in place by his predecessor, but does not expect "business to continue as usual", especially in areas where the ministry has been underperforming.

He also urged staff members to be committed to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the ministry's programmes and projects, and to adhere to new and existing cost-cutting measures.

"These directives and all other existing ones must strictly be adhered to. As such, I expect the ministry to contribute to the reduction of uncoordinated travel by government officials and save on the daily and subsistence allowances (DSA), overtime and utility costs," he stated.

The minister, therefore, urged staff members at his new ministry to exercise professionalism and observe public service rules and procedures.


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