Broke Agribusdev hopes for government bailout

The state-owned Agricultural Business Development Agency is broke and cannot pay its workers' salaries unless it receives a cash injection from the government.

15 February 2021 | Agriculture

KENYA KAMBOWE

RUNDU



Agribusdev employees have not yet received their January salaries and all eyes are now on the line ministry to bail out the state-owned company.

Last month, employees of the Agricultural Business Development Agency (Agribusdev) were informed that their salaries would not be paid until further notice. Last week, disgruntled employees of Agribusdev stationed at the Sikondo Irrigation farm in Kavango West expressed their disappointment after they were informed that the company was broke and they would not be paid until money was available. The workers said they desperately needed their January salaries. Some said they had not been able to enrol their children in school because they could not buy the items requested by schools. They also said their bank accounts were overdrawn and regular debit orders were declined.

“We are expected to produce food for the nation, that's why we are here at work, but how can we fulfil our mandate if we are starving? We are producing food for the nation while we are starving at home - is that fair?” remarked Semete Andreas, one of the employees.



We are broke

When contacted for comment, Agribusdev acting managing director Berfine Antindi said the company was broke and would need a bailout from the public enterprise ministry.

Antindi revealed that the current monthly salary bill stands at just over N$5 million.

Last year, the public enterprise ministry gave Agribusdev a cash injection of about N$53 million to cover salaries and operational costs until December.

“Everybody, even at head office, is affected. Nobody received a salary for January and we are not sure if there is going to be any salary paid soon. What they are telling you is true and it's not a secret,” Antindi said.



More needs to be done

Antindi admitted that a lot has to be done to make Agribusdev self-sustaining.

Last year the Agribusdev board instituted an investigation into the affairs of the state-owned enterprise. Former Agribusdev managing director Petrus Uugwanga was placed on suspension until his untimely death.

Antindi said the investigation was continuing and its findings would indicate the way forward.

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