Cost-cutting: Politicians must lead by example

30 January 2018 | Opinion

It is indeed refreshing to see President Hage Geingob leading from the front as far as attempts to cut spending on government perks is concerned. Geingob elected to travel via a commercial flight last week to attend the African Union summit in Addis Ababa. There were also a notable fewer number of senior officials in his delegation this time around. For the past two years or so, government has been rolling out its austerity measures which have seen severe cost-cutting efforts at various ministries, offices and agencies. Finance minister Calle Schlettwein has previously indicated that budget cuts were inevitable and necessary in order to ensure financial sustainability. Almost every government department has been gutted by major cutbacks in the national budget and we have seen sectors such as education, sport and healthcare heavily hit. These tough economic times have unfortunately also led to massive job losses, especially in the construction industry, as government tenders dried up because of financial constraints. We are still not out of the woods yet and despite the ongoing austerity drive, some officials continue to enjoy their perks, which include spending on overseas travel, vehicles and entertainment. This, however, needs to stop and proper guidelines must be set out by treasury and made public in order to tackle abuse. It cannot be business as usual when ordinary taxpayers, who are mostly poor and disadvantaged, have to bear the brunt of budget cuts on a daily basis while those who are quick to claim that they are public servants, continue to demand for more perks on top of their high-paying jobs. It is now up to treasury to wield the axe and curb spending on luxury cars, entertainment, accommodation and travel, among others, of senior government officials. Politicians must learn to lead by example and should give up some of their lucrative perks such as business class flights, which continue to cost taxpayers millions every year. We must weather the difficult times together and the gravy train must be brought to an abrupt end.

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