13 February 2018

Southern Africa: Namibia Continues Losing Global Competitiveness

Windhoek — President Hage Geingob has expressed concern that Namibia's global competitiveness ranking continues to decline.

He said this is partially attributable to inefficiencies, bureaucratic bottlenecks and the slow pace of developing enabling legislation for the reform of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Recently, the government had announced a significant overhaul of the governance system for public enterprises, as they are now christened.

After much research, the new Ministry of Public Enterprises, headed by Leon Jooste, settled on a 'Hybrid Governance System' and a whole spate of governance measures to improve performance.

However, the bill that would usher in the new regulatory framework, which was promised for February last year, did not materialize.

Geingob last week during the first opening of the 2018 Cabinet said the enabling legislation for the reform of SOEs must be passed without further delay.

"Our investment climate has been perceived to be not conducive, due to the lack of implementation of agreed-upon reform measures. This has become an impediment to investment and economic growth," he said.

He noted the line minister must be given the necessary support and power to execute his mandate, through the enactment of the enabling legislation.

Equally, he directed that the findings and recommendations contained in the 2017 Citizen Satisfaction Survey, conducted by the Office of the Prime Minister, to measure service delivery standards in the public sector, be followed up.

"I expect that improvement plans will be developed and implemented this year, without delay," he remarked.

He therefore requested the prime minister to expedite the implementation of agreed-upon reform measures and to conduct a bureaucratic bottleneck audit, to decongest systems and institutions.

As previously resolved, he reiterated that the confidential process of lifestyle audits will be broadened.

"Those found wanting shall be handed over to relevant law enforcement agencies," he warned.

In 2016, Geingob had vowed that all government officials would be subjected to audits to assess whether their salaries match their lifestyles.

Such lifestyle audits have been carried out in countries like Kenya to weed out corrupt officials.

Civil society organisations such as the Institute for Public Policy Research have over the years been asking for lifestyle audits for all ministers and senior public servants.

The Public Service Commission has also called for the introduction of lifestyle audits as one of the ways to detect graft among public officials.


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